Internal rhyme

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Rhyme in verse usually occurs between the endings of two or more lines - as, for example, in the opening lines of The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892):


On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot.


Sometimes, however, the rhyme occurs not between different lines of verse but within a single line. This is known as internal rhyme - or, less commonly, as middle rhyme or Leonine rhyme. Here, as an example, is a stanza from The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849) - the internal rhymes, printed in bold type, occur in the first and third lines.


Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.


Here is another example, this time from Night Mail by W.H. Auden (1907-1973) - again the internal rhymes are printed in bold type.


Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from the girl and the boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or visit relations,
And applications for situations
And timid lovers' declarations
And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
News circumstantial, news financial,


Sometimes neither of the two words which rhyme comes at the end of the line. This is particularly true of the internal rhymes in some Latin and French verse of the Middle Ages. (It is internal rhyme in the poetry of this period that is most likely to be referred to as Leonine rhyme.) Here as an example is a couplet from De contemptu mundi (On Contempt for the World), a poem of some 3000 lines by Bernard of Cluny (a 12th century monk at the Monastery of Cluny in the Burgundy region of France):


Hora novissima, tempora pessima sunt — vigilemus.
Ecce minaciter imminet arbiter ille supremus.


(Translation: The hour is most strange, the times are very bad – let us be vigilant. Behold, menacingly the Supreme Judge draws closer.)


Notice that as well as the internal rhymes within each line, there is also (a different} rhyme between the final words of the two lines (vigilemus and supremus).