Masculine rhyme

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

Masculine rhyme

Masculine rhyme: Rhyme involving single, stressed syllables. Masculine rhyme frequently involves single-syllable words, such as meek / sleek, but may also occur in a polysyllabic context, such as show / below and deride / subside, provided the stress is on the final syllable.

EXAMPLES: Masculine rhyme is common in nursery rhymes, such as “Hickory Dickory Dock,” which begins “Hickory dickory dock / The mouse ran up the clock,” and “Jack and Jill,” which contains two sets of masculine rhyme in the first stanza, Jill / hill and down / crown. Langston Hughes’s poem “Harlem” (1951) contains three masculine rhyme pairs, sun / run, meat / sweet, and load / explode:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore —

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over —

Like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?