To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme?

The basic thing to remember is that Poetry is the written
or verbal expression of inner feelings and impressions.  It is
an art form that allows the creator to layer understanding
and meaning with subtle references or to create a specific
feeling or impression that works at both the conscious and
subconscious levels.

Early poetry was rhymed because it was sung or treated
as lyric.  As in the case of early music writing, this led to the
development of strict forms, styles and meter of writing.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing a poem in any
style you may choose, so long as the content agrees with the
style.  An experienced poet will feel the theme they wish to
write and a specific style may come to mind.  A Sonnet is a
classic form for writing love poems as it has become nearly
synonymous with the subject.  However, one would seldom
see a poem that decries the brutality of war in sonnet form,
unless there was a specific intent to pose two such emotions
in counterpoint.   There is no set rule for form or styles
(although specific forms and styles have their rules) and just
as you’ll find in any area of study, the “beauty is in the eye of
the beholder”.

You’ll find in Publishing Books such as Poet’s Market
that some publishers refuse to look at rhymed poetry, while
others will look at nothing else.  On the side of those who
nearly insist on rhymed poetry is a loose quote of Rudyard
Kipling who when asked how he felt about the new form of
poetry called “Free Verse” replied: “I’m not sure, why don’t
you quote me some?”

Conversely, the current trend in modern poetry is towards
Free or Open verse.  Keep this in mind when you are told
your poetry “should be” free verse by other poets and

It is fairly obvious that the mind uses sounds to assist its
memory, which is why a rhymed poem is probably more
easily remembered.  However, a poet must decide whether
it is better to have a poem easily remembered or better
understood and appreciated.  If you have a talent for creating
rhymned poems that don’t sound “too rhymy”, then by all
means, go for it!  If you find yourself forcing rhymes and
corrupting your poem just so it fits, another example of
“fitting a square peg into a round hole”, you should reconsider
the use of rhyme.

Some new poets think you have to write in either rhyme or
free verse.  This is not the case.  Many poems combine the
styles, if one can really call them styles, with a resultant poem
that retains the lyric qualities of rhyme, yet has the free flowing
sense of free-verse.

The best advice we can give to new poets is to READ.  If
you should choose to read cover to cover an anthology, great;
if you choose to read short collections of poems, that too is
okay.  Just be sure to read a good cross section of poetry,
poems that span the greatest spectrum of time, style and form.

Avoid end-stopped rhymes as a rule, be careful of not
trying to make all your rhymes “full” rhymes.  For details on
structure, format, style, etc, you can check our Poetic
Reference section for books on the subject.

As we stated elsewhere in our website, civilizations are
measured by their “collective” perceptions.  This means that
there is no one single person who has a privileged point of
view.  So if you want to write a poem in any specific style,
go for it.  Poetry can be as public or private as you desire.
If your poem expresses what you feel, then it is a good poem.
If no other person who reads it understands it, you’ll need to
make a choice: are you trying to provide them insight or just
please your inner-self.  If you want to make that connection
between them and yourself, you’ll need to rewrite it.  If they
don’t “like” the poem because it’s too “rhymy”, again, they’re
only one opinion in a world of five billion…but you should still

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