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For instance, you will notice in the poem which we have just read that every stanza has four lines; that, in printing, the first and third lines begin close to the margin, while the second and fourth lines begin a little farther in on the page—that is, they are indented. Now if you will look at the ends of the lines you will see that the words with which the first and third lines terminate are in rhyme, and that the words with which the second and fourth lines terminate are in rhyme. In other words, the indentation at beginning of lines in poetry calls attention to the rhymes.
It is true throughout The Country Squire that every pair of lines taken alternately ends in rhymes which are perfect or nearly so. Now a perfect rhyme is one in which the two rhyming syllables are both accented, the vowel sound and the consonants which follow the vowels are identical, and the sounds preceding the vowel are different. For instance, the words smile and style rhyme. Both of these are monosyllables and hence accented. The vowel sound is the long sound of i; the consonant sound of I follows. The sounds preceding the i are similar but not identical, represented by sm in the first case and st in the second. In the fifth stanza the first line ends with the word dispatch, the third with the word batch. This rhyme is perfect, because the accent on the word dispatch is naturally on the second syllable. In the ninth stanza the word dress is made to rhyme with nakedness. This is not strictly perfect, for the natural accent of nakedness is on the first syllable.
It may be interesting for beginners to work out the rhyme scheme of a poem and write it down. This is very easily done. Take the first stanza in The Country Squire. Represent the rhyming syllable of the first line by a, the rhyming syllable of the second line by b. It follows then that the rhyming syllable of the third line must be represented by a, and the rhyming syllable of the fourth line by b. Writing these letters in succession we have the nonsense word abab, which will always stand for stanzas of this kind. If you are interested in this turn to the studies at the end of the next poem, To My Infant Son.
TO MY INFANT SON
By Thomas Hood
THOU happy, happy elf!
Thou little tricksy Puck!
With antic toys so funnily bestuck,
Light as the singing bird that rings the air,—
(The door! the door! he'll tumble down the stair!)
Thou darling of thy sire!
(Why, Jane, he'll set his pinafore afire!)
Thou imp of mirth and joy!
Thou idol of thy parents;—(Drat the boy!
Thou cherub, but of earth;
In harmless sport and mirth,
Thou human humming-bee, extracting honey From every blossom in the world that blows,
Singing in youth's Elysium ever sunny,— (Another tumble! That's his precious nose!) Thy father's pride and hope!
(He'll break that mirror with that skipping rope!)
With pure heart newly stamped from nature's mint,
(Where did he learn that squint?)
Thou young domestic dove!
(He'll have that ring off with another shove,)
Dear nursling of the hymeneal nest!
(Are these torn clothes his best?)
Little epitome of man!
(He'll climb upon the table, that's his plan,)
Touched with the beauteous tints of dawning life,
(He's got a knife!)
Thou enviable being!
No storms, no clouds, in thy blue sky foreseeing,
Play on, play on,
My elfin John!
With fancies buoyant as the thistle-down,
(He's got the scissors snipping at your gown!) Thou pretty opening rose!
(Go to your mother, child, and wipe your nose!)
The stanzas of this poem vary considerably in length, but it will be interesting to examine them according to the plans suggested at the end of the preceding poem, The Country Squire. The first stanza here has eight lines, the first four of them rhyming alternately in pairs, the next four in couplets. If now we apply the plan that is suggested for writing out the rhyme scheme, the word for the first stanza is ababcedd.
The second stanza has ten lines. Its rhyme scheme is evidently quite different, for here the first six lines rhyme in couplets and the last four alternately in pairs. The word to represent sucli a scheme is aabbecdede.
Can you write out the words which will represent the rhyme scheme in the other stanzas in this poem?
Find the other poems in this book and write out the rhyme scheme for them. Notice that in most poems the stanzas have the same number of lines, and that the rhyme scheme of one stanza is just like that of another. Take the other books in this series and turn to the poems, find what an endless variety of rhymes there is and how the scheme differs in different poems.
PRONUNCIATION OF PROPER NAMES
Note.—The pronunciation of difficult words is indicated by respelling them phonetically. N is used to indicate the French nasal sound; K the sound of ch in German; it the sound of the German ii, and French w, 6 the sound of 6 in foreign languages.
Algidus, al' ji dus
bre oN' deh
Charge D'affaires, shahr" zhay' daffayr'