ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Advanced Alternatives to Rhyme for Poetry

Updated on June 14, 2013

Set Your Poetry on Fire!

Set Your Poetry on Fire!
Set Your Poetry on Fire! | Source

The Importance of Devices

Rhyme is used by many professional and amateur poets. Unfortunately, rhyme is an easy device for inexperienced writers to rely on too much. A reader easily picks up on rhyme and is easily able to "feel" the poem. This is one reason many writers think they need to use rhyme in every poem--to make an immediate connection to the reader. It is a way to shout, "Hey, this is a poem."

This leads to forced rhymes, poor diction and irregular syntax. I go into more detail about this in my hub that explains why poetry does not need to rhyme. In a second hub, I discuss alternatives to rhyme for poetry. There are many other devices that give poems depth and meaning. The first article about alternative devices drovers the more basic poetic devices such as consonance, assonance, onomatopoeia, metaphor and simile among others. This hub gives an overview of some of the more advanced poetic devices.

Famous Poets

Of those listed, who is your favorite poet?

See results

Have Specific Reasons

It is worth noting that each literary device serves a different purpose. It is not advised to use all of these devices in one poem. Rather, you should choose which ones best suit your subject and take the time to develop those thoroughly.

This means that you must take time to carefully decide which devices you want to use and why those are important to your piece.

Why have you chosen this particular device for this part of the poem?

You must have a clear answer to this question while you write. Each device serves a purpose, and it is your responsibility to ensure that each device works well.

What Are You Doing?

Each poetic device serves a specific purpose. Make sure that you have a good reason for using each device in their respective locations within your poem.

Internal Rhyme

If you really love rhyme, you have another option besides rhyming at the ends of lines. Internal rhymes create some wonderful sounds and are useful in many situations. With internal rhyme, a word inside a line rhymes with another word on the same line.

"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary."

-"The Raven"

Edgar Allan Poe

  • The rhyme of dreary and weary within one line of poetry creates internal rhyme.

That Darn Raven!

That Darn Raven!
That Darn Raven! | Source

Wretched Rhyme

A wretched rhyme is a bit different than a light rhyme; however it still relates to the stressing of syllables. This is a rhyme of a stressed syllable with an unstressed syllable.

  • For example, lady / a bee
  • In the above example, the bold in the words shows the rhyming stressed syllable in lady and the rhyming unstressed syllable in bee.
  • Lady has the first syllable stressed and bee has its only syllable unstressed. These rhyme and create the wretched rhyme.

Light Rhyme

A light rhyme is produced when a stressed syllable is rhymed with a secondary stressed syllable.

  • For example, frog and dialogue. Another example is live and prohibitive.
  • In the examples above, the bold shows the stressed, rhyming syllables of each word.
  • -logue and -tive are secondary syllables of multisyllabic words and are stressed syllables. Frog and live are the primary syllables of monosyllabic words and are also stressed syllables.


Elision might be rather familiar to you. You may have seen it in poems or songs, because it can be very important. Elision is used when a poet deletes an unstressed vowel or syllable in order to retain the proper meter of a line of poetry.

Shakespeare wrote his plays mostly in iambic pentameter-an extremely difficult task. He relied on elision in many instances to keep true to the meter.

  • For example, in W.H. Auden's poem, "In Memory of William Butler Yeats", he writes

"Flies o'er th' unbending corn..."

  • The apostrophes delete letters and syllables to retain meter and create elision.

Take Your Time!

You must take your time and practice developing your skills with poetic devices. Just learning them is not good enough. Hone your skills. Find which ones you like best and do well. Practice, practice, practice. When you find your rhythm, you will feel it and become more confident in your writing. This will show in your poetry.

Feminine Rhyme

In my hub about alternatives to rhyme for poetry, one device I discuss is consonance. The feminine rhyme relies on this device. This happens when consonance appears on the final consonants of the words involved.

  • For example, the words ill and shell create a feminine rhyme.
  • The consonance that occurs on the last consonant sounds, ill and shell, create the feminine rhyme.


Syntax is the order in which the parts of a sentence is put together. Normal syntax for a basic sentence is SUBJECT-->VERB-->OBJECT.

For various reasons, poets invert this format. This can be done with any type of sentence, not just a simple one.

  • Whose shoes these are I think I know.
  • The sample sentence has an inverted structure, as it does not follow the normal flow of SUBJECT-->VERB-->OBJECT.

Extended Metaphor

An extended metaphor is exactly what it sounds like. It is a metaphor, but it not like the usual metaphor. An example of regular metaphor might be, "Her body was a statue." This is only one sentence. An extended metaphor takes up multiple lines of poetry to develop. Some extended metaphors last for the entire work.

Emily Dickinson uses an extended metaphor in "Hope Is a Little Bird"

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune--without the words,

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

Don't Over Do It

Just because you are learning many new poetic devices does not mean you have to jam all of them into one poem. Take your time to judge which ones work best for each poem.

Mixed Metaphor

Be careful. Mixed metaphors are horrible. They are poorly written and twisted pieces of ideas. They sometimes mix two unrelated cliches.

  • Tom Wolf in The Bonfire of the Vanities writes

"All at once he was alone in this noisy hive with no place to roost."

  • This awkwardly mixes two cliches.

Implied Metaphor

An implied metaphor is one that is only hinted at. It does not stand out in plain view.

  • For example, "Shut your trap!"
  • The implied metaphor is that your mouth is a trap.


The refrain is used to place an emphasis on a word or phrase. You may be familiar with the use of the word refrain as a musical term. It works the same way in poetry.

The refrain is the repetition of a word or phrase throughout a poem to provide emphasis of that idea.

  • For example, in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven", he uses one of literature's most famous refrains.

"Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore'"


Another term with which you may be familiar is the idiom. These are phases where the literal meanings of them are not what is meant by the speaker. The expressions mean something different than what they literally mean.

  • For example, "The ball is in your court."
  • We are not playing a game. There is no physical ball or court.
  • This figuratively means that it is up to you to make a decision.


Idiom-The Ball Is in Your Court
Idiom-The Ball Is in Your Court | Source

Keep Writing

As you continue to discover new poetic devices, you will begin to find which ones you enjoy most and which ones you are best at producing. It takes a lot of time and effort to compose a poem with valuable devices. You first need to hone your skills for each device you wish to use in your poems; that takes practice and patience. The best way to do that is to start writing and keep writing.

Hopefully some of these poetic devices come in handy. Take a look at famous, well written poetry to understand what good poetry is and see devices used well. Seeing good work is always helpful when trying to figure out how to produce your own.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)