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“If by dull rhymes our English must be chain’d,
And, like Andromeda, the Sonnet sweet
Fetter’d, in spite of pained loveliness;
Let us find out, if we must be constrain’d,
Sandals more interwoven and complete “

Keats has coined it perfectly (and his poem is worth reading in full) and personally speaking, I tend to buck against the chained stricture or else fall foul of predictability. Finding the rhyme is one of the most challenging aspects of poetry writing, and finding rhymes that do not draw attention to themselves is even harder.

Here are a couple of ABAB etc poems as exemplars, where the rhyme runs discreetly, beginning with Edna St Millay’s “Dirge Without Music”:-

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.  Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
They are gone.  They are gone to feed the roses.  Elegant and curled
Is the blossom.  Fragrant is the blossom.  I know.  But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know.  But I do not approve.  And I am not resigned.”

St Vincent Millay’s
alternating rhymes feel unrestrained because not only does she have irregular meter throughout the stanzas but she also breaks the lines with stops.

In “Full Blown” – Marion Strobel’s 8/4 syllabic alternate rhyme poem – she employs many pauses and stops, and effectively inhibits the rhymes’ rhythmic rut.

For today’s MTB Critique and Craft prompt we are:

  • writing an alternate rhyme poem of at least 3 stanzas
  • the rhyme scheme is ABAB; CDCD; EFEF etc

  • We are going to borrow the alternate rhyme pairs from a published poem
  • in the order they were written
  • either a famous poem or one of our own previously published
  • do cite the source (or even post with the original in parallel)

    Note: there is no strict ruling on meter but avoid the tum-te-tum rhythm by using enjambment as well as irregularities such as different line lengths and breaks within lines, as per the two poets above.

You may already have a poem in mind, even one of your own, but here and here is a list of ABAB etc poems you can draw upon if you need to.

And for those of you who like an extra challenge, try either of these poetry styles which follow the ABAB rhyme scheme:

When you have published your poem according to the guidelines above, add it to the Mr Linky below and go visiting other contributors as that is half the fun of our dVerse gatherings.