Rhyme Schemes of Robert Frost’s Poetry Jake Jelsone English 120-08 A rhyme is defined as a verse or poetry having correspondence in the terminal sounds of the lines. One of the best examples of a poet that mastered rhyming beautifully was Robert Frost. Robert Frost was one of the best poets of the twentieth century. He is highly admired for his work about rural life and command for the English language. While many poets like to free verse their poetry, Robert Frost normally does not.
One of the main characteristics that contribute to why Robert Frost is such a good poet is his ability to develop rhyme schemes and the sense of rhythm it creates throughout his poetry. One of Robert Frost’s most famous poems, “The Road Not Taken”, has a very clever rhyme scheme that one could easily miss if you don’t look closely (Frost, 1993, p. 1). If you examine the poem thoroughly, you will notice that in each stanza, the last word in the first, third, and fourth lines rhyme with each other, whereas the last word in the second and fifth lines rhyme with each other.
This might be hard to see at first glance, since the typical reader is used to words rhyming on the line directly proceeding or following it. The rhyme scheme for the poem is as follows: A,B,A,A,B C,D,C,C,D E,F,E,E,F G,H,G,G,H. This rhyme scheme also creates a sense of rhythm throughout the poem. After line two, the reader tends to find themselves slowing down a little bit, almost as you would at the end of a stanza. The pace then picks up for the next three lines until you finally reach the end of the stanza, and then another break is assumed.
This trend continues through the entire poem, and this is due to the expertise of Robert Frost’s ability to control the rhythm throughout the poem with a simple rhyme scheme used. Another one of his poems, “Meeting and Passing”, doesn’t have such a perfect order to the rhyme scheme (Frost, 1993, p. 13). On line one, you may notice the last word “wall” doesn’t rhyme with the last word on line two, “view”. However, if you look closely, line two rhymes with line three, line four rhymes with line five, and line six rhymes with line seven.
That leaves the last word in line eight, “parasol”, without a rhyme also. However, if you refer back to line one, you will notice that it indeed does rhyme with line eight. In the second stanza, Frost keeps it somewhat basic, rhyming lines nine and eleven, ten and twelve, and repeating the same word on lines thirteen and fourteen. Therefore, the rhyme scheme for the poem is as follows: A,B,B,C,C,D,D,A E,F,E,F,G,G. The rhythm established at first is set by the consecutive rhyming lines throughout most of the first stanza. It keeps the poetry steady and moves the reader along at a decent pace.
However, the first four lines of the second stanza transitions the reader from the quick pace of the first stanza to the ending of the poem. The last two lines use the same word to end the line, placing a great deal of emphasis on these two particular lines. The rhyme scheme used by Frost is masterful, and dictates the rhythm of this poem exactly the way he wants the reader to read it. Sometimes, however, Robert Frost keeps his rhyme schemes very simple and to the point. In the poem “Pea Brush”, he uses basic four line stanzas with every other line rhyming (Frost, 1993, pp. 7-18). The rhyme scheme is: A,B,A,B C,D,C,D E,F,E,F G,H,G,H I,J,I,J K,L,K,L. This rhyme scheme allows the reader to move through it a constant speed, without any unexpected pauses or breaks other than starting a new stanza. This is not traditional of Robert Frost’s poetry. He tends to have more complex rhyme schemes with rhythm that speeds up and slows down as need be throughout his poetry. However, this shows Frost’s ability to write with many different styles of rhyming and rhythm, and is one of the reasons why he was such an outstanding poet.
Robert Frost can also make extremely complicated rhyme schemes that are tremendously hard to follow. This is shown in his poem “The Sound of the Trees” (Frost, 1993, p. 49). At first glance, one might think that the whole poem is free versed, with no rhythm or rhyme scheme at all. Looking closer, however, you notice that he rhymes only certain lines, which also affects the rhythm of the entire poem. The rhyme scheme for the poem is as follows: A,B,A,C,D,E,D,C,B,F,E,F,G,E,H,G,E,H,B,I,I,B,J,E,K.
Four of the first six lines do not have any sort of rhyming at all, so the poem seems to move relatively fast. However, the next three lines all rhyme previous lines in the poem, so it slows the poem down. The middle of the poem’s rhyme scheme gets very confusing, but the pace seems to remain pretty consistent until you hit lines twenty and twenty-one, where they are back-to-back rhymes. Through the entire poem, Frost does not use one set of lines with back-to-back rhymes. This comes as a shock, and it makes the reader stop and think, which slows down the rhythm tremendously.
The last four lines alternates between rhymes with old lines and not rhyming, so the reader may not even recognize the connection to previous lines for the rhymes. The most important part of the entire rhyme scheme, though, is lines twenty and twenty-one. Creating only two consecutive lines rhyming through an entire poem puts the majority of the emphasis on these two lines. Frost created this rhyme scheme for a reason: to put emphasis on specific lines and slow down and speed up the reader as they moved through the poem as he desired.
Throughout his poetry, Frost varies his poems from the most basic of rhyme schemes to some that are among the most complicated. Each one he chooses is for a particular reason; most of the time it’s because he wishes to establish a rhythm in his poetry and move the reader along at his desired pace. He transitions beautifully from line to line, while at the same time, uses those words to rhyme with other lines. His command of the language itself through his poetry is arguably one of the best of the entire twentieth century, and his work will serve as a standard for all poets for years to come. Bibliography
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