Internal rhyme

The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018

Internal rhyme

Internal rhyme: Rhyme that occurs within a line of verse.

EXAMPLES: Edward Lear used internal rhyme for comic effect in the following lines from his poem “The Owl and the Pussycat” (1942): “They took some honey, and plenty of money / Wrapped up in a five pound note.”

The following stanza from William Wordsworth’s “We Are Seven” (1798), in which a child describes the graves of her brother and sister, has three internal rhymes (green / seen, more / door, and side / side) in addition to one end rhyme (replied / side):

“Their graves are green, they may be seen,”

The little maid replied,

“Twelve steps or more from my mother’s door,

And they are side by side.”

Internal rhyme also often appears in music. The popular show tune “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” (1940), written for the musical Pal Joey by Lorenz Hart and later recorded by artists ranging from Ella Fitzgerald (1956) and Frank Sinatra (1957) to Sinéad O’Connor (1993) and Rufus Wainwright (2006), pairs wild and beguiled in one line and simpering and whimpering in another. Hip-hop duo Rakim and Eric B.’s introduction to “Eric B. Is President” (1986) is rife with internal rhyme, with examples including door / before, biting / fighting / inviting, esteem / seem, and prepared / scared.