How to Write a Rhyming Poem

Three Parts:Understanding Rhyme and MeterWriting the PoemRevising a Rhyming Poem

Rhyme can add a driving music to your poems, giving them a memorable quality that can be a lot of fun. While not all poems need to rhyme, poems that do rhyme tend to seem all the more spectacular for pulling off such a complex composition. If you want to try your hand at rhyming poetry, you can learn the basics of rhyme and meter, as well as some tips for writing good poems that do more than rhyme.

Part 1
Understanding Rhyme and Meter

  1. Image titled Write a Rhyming Poem Step 1
    Make a list of full rhymes. Words are said to rhyme when the endings and sounds of the words match. There are many different types of rhyme, but full rhymes or "perfect" rhymes are words like "dog" and "bog," with identical vowel and consonant combinations. If you want to write out a rhyming poem, a good way to get started is to practice rhyming. Start with a word and come up with a good list of words that rhyme with it. Some will be easier than others.
    • Dog, for example, rhymes perfectly with bog, cog, log, nog, agog, frog, grog, hog, and lots of others. Come up with your own list for practice.
    • If you have a theme in mind, try to start coming up with a few different vocab words that might make for a good poem, and match rhyming words with each.
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    Learn about other kinds of rhyme. While a few well-placed full rhymes might seem like the mark of a perfect poem, trying to make every rhyme perfect can force some poems to be awkward and clunky. A good poem shouldn't include rhymes just to complete the poem, it's better to let the rhymes give the content of the poem some added color and inflection. This is where more flexible rhymes come in:
    • Semi-rhymes match up almost perfectly except for the fact that one of the words has an extra syllable (ex. “hate” and “grating”).
    • Slant rhymes match only the end consonants, disregarding the vowel sounds (ex. “meant” and stint”).
    • Forced rhymes match up sounds properly but throw off the natural rhythm by rhyming a stressed syllable with an unstressed syllable (ex. “stíng” and “sharing”).
    • Visual rhymes match up words that look the same but sound different (ex. “dove” and “drove”).
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    Pay attention to the number of beats in each line. Rhyming poems do more than include words that rhyme. Most poems that rhyme also pay attention to the meter of the lines, which refers to the number of stressed and unstressed syllables in the line. It can get quite complex, but the principles are pretty simple, and are good to be aware of when you're first getting started.
    • Count up the number of syllables in a line of poetry, like "To be or not to be, that is the question." In that line, there are ten. Now, read the line out loud and try to listen to the stressed and the unstressed syllables. Read it emphasizing those stresses.
    • Shakespeare's famous line is an example of what's called iambic pentameter, which means that the line includes five beats (pentameter), made up of an unstressed syllable, followed by a stressed syllable: "To BE or NOT to BE, that IS the question.
    • It's not super-critical to understand iambs and metrical feet when you're starting out, but it is good to try to keep the syllable-count of each line roughly the same. Count up your syllables when you get started, so your poem's lines don't get too long.
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    Read lots of contemporary rhyming poetry. When you rhyme, it can sometimes be tempting to start writing like a Victorian. It's not necessary to stilt your language into an awkward formal version of itself. If you want to write rhyming poetry in the 21st century, it should sound like it was written by someone who shops for cereal in the cereal aisle, not someone who slays dragons. Check out contemporary poets who rhyme without sounding old-fashioned:

Part 2
Writing the Poem

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    Choose a method of composing the poem. Rhyming poems are composed in lots of different ways, and there's no one right way to get started. You can start with a traditional poetic form and write a poem that fits it, or you can just start writing and see if what you write would benefit from a stricter form.
    • It's common to pick the form first and craft your content to fit the form of the poem. If you select this method of composing, pick a form and go from there. Check out this article for a primer on poetic forms.
    • Alternatively, you can start to write about a particular subject, without paying attention to the rhyme scheme or the meter of what you're writing. Yeats, the great Irish poet, started all his poems by writing prose.
    • Another alternative is to forego rhyme entirely. Not all poems will require rhyme to do what you want to with them. If you're writing poetry for a school assignment, starting with prose is still a fine way of doing it.
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    Make a list of good rhyming words for your subject. Don’t be too strict with your rhyming words in list form, just try to get as many as possible to give yourself a cheat-sheet to work from. Keep this list of rhyming words going as you write and revise your poem.
    • Be sure to choose words that are thematically related, are similar in tone when necessary, and relate back to the subject of your poem.
    • It's also a good idea to try to come up with some off-beat words to force yourself to fit in if you want to, as well as rhyming phrases that you might incorporate into the poem. Rhyming "Buju Banton" with "the great wonton of Scranton"? Could be great.
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    Write a full line of poetry. It doesn’t have to be the first line of the poem, and it doesn't have to be great. Just focus on committing one line to paper that will help anchor your poem and give yourself something from which you can build. You can always change it later.
    • This is going to be your "guide" line. Count up the beats in the line and figure out what you're working with in terms of the meter. Then use that meter to guide the rest of your lines. If you want to change it later, you can.
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    Write each line like you're opening a door. Write a few lines around your first line, and look for good connections that might spark the poem. As you write, try integrating words from your rhyming list to give yourself some options, and keep building lines one on the next, using the images as the ideas from one to generate the next.
    • If you write something like "The feeble words of fate," it's hard to find anything to hold on to or to see in the line, which makes the poem harder to write. It's like a closed door. You could always rhyme "Lead us all to hate," but that likewise doesn't give us much to work with. You're just rhyming. What could come next?
    • Write "open door" lines full of imagery and without any big abstract words. What do "feeble words of fate" look like? What words? Who said them? Try something like, "My mother was tired and told us dinner was cold," which gives us something to see, something to work with: "My mother was tired and told us dinner was cold. / Her words have always been a cold stone to hold."

Part 3
Revising a Rhyming Poem

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    Pick a rhyme scheme and use it to revise your poem. If you've got a loose-ish collection of rhyming words, or something that's starting to resemble a poem, a good way of revising and finishing a poem is to select a rhyme scheme and make it fit. A poem’s rhyme scheme is the pattern that determines how the ends of the lines rhyme with one another. If an interesting rhyme scheme has already begun to form in your poem, keep using it. If not, use some traditional patterns:
    • ABAB is one of the most common rhyme schemes. It means that the first and third line rhyme (A with A), as do the second and fourth (B with B). Ex.

      AShall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
      BThou art more lovely and more temperate:
      ARough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
      BAnd summer’s lease hath all too short a date[1]
    • ABCB is another common rhyme scheme, offering more flexibility. Ex.

      ARoses are red
      BViolets are blue
      CSugar is sweet
      BAnd so are you.
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    Let yourself abandon the rules. Though traditional rhyme schemes are useful and fun to work with, feel free to forgo them for something looser, if it suits your needs. A "good" poem isn't one that's perfectly constructed to fit the template of rhymes. A good poem is one that communicates a strange, unique idea that would have been impossible to write out in prose.
    • AAnd indeed there will be time
      BFor the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
      CRubbing its back upon the window-panes;
      AThere will be time, there will be time
      BTo prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
      DThere will be time to murder and create,
      EAnd time for all the works and days of hands
      DThat lift and drop a question on your plate;
      FTime for you and time for me,
      GAnd time yet for a hundred indecisions
      GAnd for a hundred visions and revisions
      FBefore the taking of a toast and tea.[2]
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    Consider using a more complex traditional form. There are lots of different traditional forms, which are always written according to a certain semi-complicated pattern. If you're curious about trying to write a poem that rhymes in a pre-determined pattern, you can try out any of the following:
    • Couplets are a deceptively simple pair of lines that rhyme together, and poems can be made up of lots of couplets to create what is called "heroic couplets." Milton, Alexander Pope, and lots of canonical poets made great use of the couplet.
    • Sonnets are 14-line rhyming poems that can follow one of two rhyming patterns. Shakespearean sonnets always follow an alternating rhyme scheme, then end with a couplet: a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g. Petrarchan sonnets have somewhat more variance, but are generally some variation of a-b-b-a, a-b-b-a, c-d-c-d-c-d.
    • Villanelles are very complex poems forms that require you to repeat whole lines of the poem. Villanelles are written in three line stanzas, all of which must rhyme a-b-a. The catch is that the A lines must repeat as the final line of each subsequent stanza. These poems take some serious work.
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    Play with words. Don’t get so caught up with how the ends of the lines match up that you forget to have fun with the middles.
    • Assonance refers to the repetition and rhyme of vowel sounds – ex. “far” and “start”)
    • Consonance refers to the repetition and rhyme of consonants – ex. “freak” and “fork”)
    • Alliteration refers to the repetition and rhyming of the first sounds of words – ex. “lazy lovers’ longing”)


  • If you have to write a rhyming poem for school, then start it early. Writing poems are definitely not something to at the last minute.
  • Use a rhyming dictionary like or to find rhymes you may not have thought of otherwise.


  • Don't get angry or stressed if you're having a hard time. Take a break to clear your mind, have a drink of water or get some fresh air, and start again.

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Categories: Poetry