General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Why do rhymes sound better at the end of a sentence rather than the middle or the beginning?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10780points) May 24th, 2010

The prettiest girl,
I ever saw,
was drinking whiskey,
through a straw!

It certainly has a certain allure when a rhyme comes at the end of the sentence.

Saw the prettiest girl,
I ever seen,
Straw ‘tween her lips,
drinking whiskey.

Nifty, but just not the same. Something about expectation. It is like it fulfills a certain expectation my ears have. Like the way some notes finish well with others, and not with others still.

So is it the noise? Is it the expectation?

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22 Answers

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Wonder why it is?
Could it be a magic trick?
Hats and rabbit shit.

gailcalled's avatar

It is true for doggerel only. Poetry that endures uses many devices other than end-rhymes.

Example 1:
Sonnet by Shelley


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Introduction To Poetry by Billy Collins (About teaching poetry to college students)

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Ltryptophan's avatar

The question that I am asking is why can’t I hear the rhyme the same way when it comes at a place other than the end of the sentence. @gailcalled I am not proposing that poetry without rhyme has a poor ring, but only about rhyme itself.

The dog has the blues,
its lost its shoes!

Blues, has the dog
Shoes, has it lost.

Draconess25's avatar

@Ltryptophan Personally, I like the 2nd one better.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@Draconess25 can you elaborate?

Ltryptophan's avatar

@Draconess25 that is how yoda talks… shoes, has it lost…I can hear him saying it…

andreaxjean's avatar

I prefer the rhyming to be somewhere other than at the end of a line specifically because it makes the poetry unpredictable. Things that are unpredictable, to me, are exciting. When listening to poetry that rhymes at the end of a line, I always feel like I know what’s going to come next. There’s no fun in that. =[

Jeruba's avatar

Internal rhyme is very effective:

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
” ‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more.”

But it would certainly lose its punch without the end rhyme, which occurs where there is typically a natural pause.

(Note that it’s not at the end of a sentence, but rather at the end of a line. In conventional verse a line consists of a certain number of accented and unaccented syllables—“feet,” in literary parlance.)

Rhyming has been around for a very long time, although not as long as poetry. I think it is there for the sake of special effects, along with other devices such as alitteration and rhythm, to enhance the magical potency of poetry.

Ever notice how, even in animated cartoons of today, characters speaking magical spells always chant them in rhyme?

gailcalled's avatar

It is an issue not only of end-rhyme but of of meter.

Your first version. to keep it simple, has a beat. Say it out loud and listen to where the accents fall.

Now recite your second version. It is gibberish linguistically, metrically, and rhythmically.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@gailcalled I don’t see how…exactly…that affects the rhyme’s relationship…

Two words,


they rhyme.

ok now put them at various places…there rhyme doesn’t stick out as much to me…

DominicX's avatar

That’s not always true. What about in that passage from The Phantom of the Opera?

It’s really not amusing
He’s abusing our position
In addition he wants money
He’s a funny sort of specter
To expect a large retainer
Nothing plainer, he is clearly quite insane!

In this case, the end of the line rhymes with the middle of the next line. I find it delightful. :)

Ltryptophan's avatar

Well, you may find it delightful, but I find that the rhyme, does not stand out as much.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Rhyming is inflection sensitive.

The blues/shoes rhyme works either way, as long as the inflection is placed upon those words regardless of their order. Unspoken, it is left to the reader to place accordingly.

gailcalled's avatar

Having two words rhyme
May be very simple to do every time
But it can really sound peculiar if you ignore the meter and
treat the issue as a hand-off or off-hand or unless you’re Ogden Nash who took on this subject his own stand.

CMaz's avatar

Why do rhymes sound better in time, at the end of a sentence than the middle of the chime?

gailcalled's avatar

“Do they?” she asked, aghast.”

@ChazMaz: Try this and see what meter does;

“Why do rhymes sound better in time,” I riddle.
At the end of a phrase rather than the middle.”

Makes no sense either way. I believe that is called “forcing the rhyme.”

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Poppycock! That rhyme in time.
Let me mock that statement.

Connect the tension mentioned prior.
Inflection rallies rhyme.

Or, from the archives…

Krishna couldn’t have been kinder when I kicked down that door. Kicked that fucker downtown, right through the balls that a Buddha never scratches. Just lifted up that dirty flirt skirt to catch Mohamed masticating the masses, chewing and spewing a luscious loathing love, force feeding purging hatred regurgitated from an odium podium throwing sodium on the wounds of festooned goons in platoons swooned then marooned on the moon. Too soon for this monsoon.

We revel in our rebellion, hellion skeletons, bigger than the blob and more massive than the mob. We are the housewives and the bikers, the frowning deacons and the smiling gang bangers. Terrorist T-Ball coaches, we are the elusive and abusive, nocturnal day dreamers. Our handle is scandal. Our treatise is meet us and feed us a fetus. So beat us with Jesus as we smile with conceit from our living room suite. Dead beats retreat but know no defeat. We are incomplete yet hard and replete with darkest of meat. Our feet hit the street excreting with heat, discreetly we cheat sweet secrete from a teat sucked completely petite. You get no receipt. We come to mistreat.

gailcalled's avatar

Pity me. Watch me flee.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Was the smell too rank?
A creaking door flies open.
Footprints never cry.

charliecompany34's avatar

when stuff ends at the end of a sentence it brings closure. whether you are a musician or a vocalist, you know how a song or tune ends. it has to end somewhere. same goes for rhymes. it has to end. without the ending it has no closure.

it can start at the beginning too, but better believe that it has to end…

gailcalled's avatar

When stuff starts at the
start, it has to have a very
uppercase letter.

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