Internal Rhyme

Internal Rhyme Makes for Good Poetic Verse.

Internal rhyme
Internal Rhyme makes for good poetic verse. Image courtesy of WikiHow

It is a norm to find rhyming words at the end of a poetic line. But rhyme isnt’ just limited to the ends of lines, rhyme can happen anywhere within a poetic line and when it does; it is known as Internal rhymes.

What is Internal Rhyme?

Internal Rhyme is a kind of rhyme that occurs within a single line of verse in which middle words rhymes with the words at the end of the same line. Sometimes words can transcend to rhyme with words within the next line.

Take for example the following verse:

  • The first burst when egg becomes child,
    our hearts start the show.
    Slow and steady when we sleep.
    Keep the beat, the meter – steady rocks.
    Clocks, they tick and tock to track the time.
    And when two lovers meet – they chime.

Notice how some of the internal rhymes above connect the last word of a line to the first word of the line that follows (show/slow, sleep/keep, rocks/clocks). The words “beat” and “meter” are even echoed two lines later in the word “meet.” Internal rhyme can intensify a poem’s rhythm, which is why is is often found in hip-hop ands rap lyrics.

Varieties of Internal Rhymes and Examples

Internal rhymes occuring within a poetic line
  • There are strange things done in the midnight sun
    By the men who moil for gold.
  • — Robert W. Service The Cremation of Sam McGee
  • Sister, my sister, O fleet sweet swallow.
  • — Algernon Charles Swinburne, Itylus
  • I went to town to buy a gown.
    I took the car and it wasn’t far.
    Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary
  • — Edgar Allen Poe The Raven.
  • The moon never beams without bringing me dreams...
    And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes.
  • — Edgar Allen Poe Annabelle Lee.
Internal rhymes occuring in separate poetic lines
    Internal rhyme schemes were extremely common in popular song of the Swing Era. One familiar example is the bridge from “Don't Fence Me In,” written by Cole Porter for the film “Hollywood Canteen” in 1944:

  • Just turn me loose let me straddle my old saddle,
    Underneath the western skies,
    On my cayuse let me wander over yonder,
    'Til I see the mountains rise.
  • — Cole Porter, Don’t fence me in
    Percy Dearmer (1867-1936) revised John Bunyan's (1628-1688) poem “To Be a Pilgrim” in 1906. It became a popular hymn when Canon Charles Winfred Douglas (1867-1944) set it to music in 1917. Here are Dearmer's lyrics, with the internal rhymes in bold:

  • He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster,
    Let him in constancy follow the Master.
    There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
    His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.

    Who so beset him round with dismal stories
    Do but themselves confound—his strength the more is.
    No foes shall stay his might; though he with giants fight,
    He will make good his right to be a pilgrim.

    Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit,
    We know we at the end, shall life inherit.
    Then fancies flee away! I’ll fear not what men say,
    I’ll labor night and day to be a pilgrim.
  • — Percy Dearman’s Lyrics
Internal rhymes occuring in separate Hip-Hop/R & B lines

Internal rhyme is a common element in poetic verses as wells as many of our favorite songs including hip-hop/rap songs. Notice the elegance of internal rhyme in the following legendary Hip-Hop/R & B songs:

    Internal rhyme is heavily deployed by major rap artists such as Kool Moe Dee, Big Daddy Kane, Nas and Rakim, as demonstrated in Eric B. and Rakim's 1987 piece, "My Melody" from their debut album Paid In Full:

  • My unusual style will confuse you a
    If I were water, I'd flow in the Nile
    So many rhymes you won't have
    time to go for yours Just because of applause I have to
    Right after tonight is when I prepare
    To catch another sucker-duck MC out
    there My strategy has to be tragedy,
    And after this you'll call me your
  • — Eric B. & Rakim, My Melody
    Internal rhyme can be found even in the earliest rap songs, such as in this Sugarhill Gang's 1979 single, Rapper's Delight:

  • I'm six-foot-one and I'm tons of fun
    and I dress to a T
    You see, I got more clothes than
    Muhammad Ali and I dress so
    I got body guards, I got two big cars,
    I definitely ain't the whack
    I got a Lincoln Continental and a sun-
    roofed Cadillac
    So after school, I take a dip in the
    pool, which is really on the wall
    I got a color TV, so I can see the
    Knicks play basketball
  • — Sugarhill Gang's 1979 single, Rapper's Delight.
    Another prominent hip hop artist who uses complex internal rhymes is AZ, as obvious in (The Format):

  • Young and gifted, my tongue's
    In the beach bungalow is how I
    brung in Christmas To the streets I'mma flow from the
    hungriest districts
    Swiss kicks crisp when I come to
    them picnics
    Play slow, paper chase stack and
    lay low
    Range rove tinted all black the
    same old

    Psychic mind, righteous rhymes
    that turned a new leaf from a life of

    No concerns with new beef, who's
    as nice as I'm

    It's confirmed, from few feet I'm still
    a sniper blind

    Built my fame, spilt my pain
    Politicking daily, still trying to milk the

    It's obvious that I'm real, rap skills

    I took some change and I'm still the
  • — AZ, The Format.
    Notice the beauty of internal rhyme used in this song (Hey Jude) by The Beatles:

  • Hey Jude, don't make it bad
    Take a sad song and make it better
    Remember to let her into your heart
    Then you can start to make it better

    Hey Jude, don't be afraid
    You were made to go out and get her
    The minute you let her under your skin
    Then you begin to make it better
  • — The Beatles, Hey Jude.
    Black Thought rapper from The Roots uses internal rhymes in song Respond/React:

  • The attractive assassin, blastin the
    devil trespassin
    Master gettin cash in an orderly
    Message to the fake n**** flashin
    Slow up Ock, before you get dropped
    and closed like a caption
    Fractional kids don't know the time
    for action
    Styles got the rhythm that of an
    Round of applause, an avalanche of
    {*BLOW*} that's what happen, now
    what's your reaction
    We heavyweight traction, pro-
    Specialize in science and math and',
    original black man
    Bustin thoughts that pierce your
    The fierce rippin your sacks and
    Vocal toe to toe impeccable splittin
    your back son
    Simple as addition and subtraction
    Black Thought, the infinite relaxed

    Shorties say they love it with a
    Bring the international charm, see a
    squad I harass
  • — The Roots, Respond/React.