Ling 131: Language & Style
Topic 5 (session A) - Sound > Rhyme - More than One Sound in a Special Position
|Sounds and meanings|
|Alliteration and assonance|
|Alliteration and assonance revisited|
|Meeting at night|
|Sound symbolism checksheet|
|Topic 5 'Tool' summary|
Rhyme - More than One Sound in a Special Position
Before we go back to alliteration and assonance, let's look at rhyme. Canonical rhymes come at the ends of lines of poetry, and patterns of these rhymes are usually called rhyme schemes (e.g. couplet schemes (AABB etc.), alternate line rhyme schemes (ABAB etc.), and so on. Rhymes usually involve the last syllable of the words which rhyme. So canonical rhyme is defined partly in terms of phonemic parallelism in the final syllable of the rhyming words and partly in terms of position in the poetic line. An example would be 'Mankind' and 'behind', (/mQnkaInd/ and /bIhaInd/ in phonemic script) from Pope's 'The Rape of the Lock':
From this, and many examples like it, we can see that in canonical rhymes the syllable-initial consonants (those in the syllable which come before the vowel) usually vary but the vowel has to be repeated, and also any syllable-final consonants (those which come after the vowel).
But in other poems and songs you can also have:
Task - Rhyme in Cole Porter's 'You're the Top'
Below is a stanza (refrain 4) from a famous 1930s song by Cole Porter , called 'You're the Top'. [There is a great recording of 'You're the Top' by Ella Fitzgerald (volume 2 of her Cole Porter Songbook collection)]. We will use this extract to learn something about the nature of rhyme, and also something about how rhyming can be pleasurable and why Cole Porter is regarded as such a great lyricist.
For copyright reasons we can't quote the whole song or reproduce a professional recording here, but we have prepared an amateur recording of it for you. In the Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter, this song has eight refrains (as well as two other verses), and the Ella Fitzgerald recording mixes together parts of refrain 4 with refrain 5, to produce a three-refrain version. This is partly because some of the examples of 'top' things mentioned in the song had become a bit dated by the time she made her recording.
In case you are not sure of some of the allusions we have provided links which spell them out. Read to the refrain and then answer the questions after it.
Answer each of the following four questions in turn, and then access our comments:
1. What is the rhyme scheme for the refrain, how many syllables are involved in the rhymes and what does this tell us about Cole Porter's song writing skills?
2. Are there any other rhymes besides the line-end ones?
3. Are there any line-end rhymes which are not perfect?
4. If Cole Porter is such a clever song writer, why isn't he in the list of 'Great Dead Poets'?