Penning Poetry 101: Rhyme Schemes

In the final instalment of our “Penning Poetry 101” series, we present our last offering, our last nugget of advice on how to navigate the world of poetry. As we mentioned in our very first instalment in the series, poetry does not necessarily have to rhyme. That being said, if you are going to rhyme- and you may well want to- there are plenty of rhyme schemes to draw from. Let’s break down some of them today!

Alternate Rhyme

Alternate rhyme is perhaps the most universally recognised type of rhyme scheme. Very simply, the first and third lines of a stanza rhyme, and the second and fourth lines rhyme, and so forth. An example can be seen below:

“No ancient mariner I,
Hawker of public crosses,
Snaring the passersby
With my necklace of albatrosses.”

-Agnes Wathall, “Sea Fevers”

Limerick Rhyme

In our first article examining types of poetry, we had a look at the limerick and its features, but skimmed over the very characteristic rhyme scheme that it has. It features an AABBA rhyme scheme, that gives it a sing-song quality and cadence when read aloud. Have a look at an example below.

“There was an Old Man with a beard
Who said, “It is just as I feared!”
Two Owls and a Hen
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!”

-Edward Lear, “There Was an Old Man with a Beard”


A villanelle is a poem that features five three-line stanzas with an ABA rhyme scheme, deviating from this at the end of the poem with a four-line stanza with an ABAA rhyme scheme. An example can be seen down below.

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

-Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”


A ballad is a type of lyric poem that follows a bit more of a complex rhyme scheme than those we have looked at so far; ABABBCBC. Traditionally, ballads feature three eight-line stanzas and conclude with a four-line stanza. An example can be seen below:

“O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.
O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
And the harvest’s done.”

-John Keats, “La Belle Dame sans Merci”


Monorhyme is exactly what it says on the tin.  Each line in the stanza (or an entire poem) ends with the same rhyme. An example can be seen below:

“Silent silent night
Quench the holy light
Of thy torches bright
For possessd of day
Thousand spirits stray
That sweet joys betray.”

-William Blake, “Silent Silent Night”

24 May 2023