To Rhyme or not to rhyme, that is the question . . .

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines poetry as “writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm.”  Huh?  What’d he say?  Let’s try Wikipedia for a more comprehensive definition.  It defines poetry as “a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and [sic] metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaïc ostensible meaning.”  Not much better, is it?  (No wonder Wikipedia is called the “free” encyclopedia.)

Most of us believe we can identify poetry when we see it—or at least recognize it when we hear it— why then is it so difficult to define?  After all, if it rhymes, it’s poetry, right?  Not so fast, partner. states categorically that there are “over 50 types of poetry.”  One of those is Haiku, a form of poetry that originated in Japan.  It is the shortest type of poem and, often, the most difficult to understand.  It consists of only three lines that generally do not rhyme, and to be correct, the lines should have five, seven, and five syllables in them, respectively.  ShakespeareSonnets, the form of poetry favored by “The Bard,” must contain just fourteen lines—no more, no less.  Sometimes, they rhyme, but often they don’t.  Does every line rhyme, or just every other line?  How many lines are in a verse?  How many verses make up a poem?  And what exactly is “free” verse?  Oh, wait, you say, that’s the kind that doesn’t rhyme at all, right?  Wrong.  My extensive research indicates that such is not always the case.  (So much for that theory.)

Then, there are the rhyming schemes.  Most of us have heard the term “iambic pentameter,” but do we really know what it means?  Let’s look once more to Wikipedia for the answer.  It defines iambic pentameter as “a commonly used type of metrical line in traditional English poetry and verse drama.  The term describes the rhythm that the words establish in that line, which is measured in small groups of syllables called ‘feet’.  The word ‘iambic’ refers to the type of foot that is used, known as the iamb, which in English is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.  The word ‘pentameter’ indicates that a line has five of these ‘feet’.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a headache.  I think it would be safe to say that poetry can best be defined as a collection of words, strung together in a pleasant-sounding way that may or may not rhyme, which is usually written by young people in love. Or, as the late Andy Griffith might have said in his rich North Carolinian accent, “Poetry is a bunch of words that’s writ in such a way that they just plain sound purty!”  Take that, Shakespeare!


Everyone has probably tried writing poetry at some point in their lives—I know I have.  Email your best original poem to me at, and I’ll choose my favorite and publish it right here on my blog, the first week in December.  The winner will receive an autographed copy of my latest Matt Davis mystery, Broken Promises.  Be sure to include your name and mailing address—and keep ’em clean, please!

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend, or re-blog it.  If you’d like to follow my blog, just click on the “follow” button at the bottom righthand corner of the page.  You’ll be asked to enter your email address, and you’ll receive a confirmation email in return.  I only blog once per week, and I never share email addresses.

Check out my website at


About AuthorJoePerroneJr

I am a former professional fly-fishing guide, and I write the Matt Davis Mystery Series, which presently consists of five books: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day, Twice Bitten, Broken Promises and Deadly Ransom. The series is set in the real town of Roscoe, NY, in the Catskill Mountains, where I guided for ten years. I love fly fishing, movies, cooking (and eating), and music. To learn more about me and my writing, please visit my website at:
This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to To Rhyme or not to rhyme, that is the question . . .

  1. Here is my submission.
    Roses are red, violets are blue. About writing poetry, I have not a clue.


  2. Micki Peluso says:

    Good article on poetry. My daughter Kim is an excellent poet while I just get lucky now and then. IAMBIC PENTAMENTER was always over my head. How simple Joe makes it sound! I think I became a poet when I learned to write poems with a good meter but actually didn’t rhyme. I recently learned to write limericks which I love and am still trying to ‘get’ haiku. Maybe I’ll send in a poem to the contest soon. I have won a few.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Micki. Ironically, I had originally thought to blog one of my own poems. However, once I started doing the research, I opted to just make it an article about poetry. By all means, please do submit a poem of your own. 🙂


  3. I do love poetry. Reblogging your post and off to enter the contest. Holiday blessings to you and yours, Joe! 🙂


  4. Reblogged this on Bette A. Stevens, Maine Author and commented:
    Yay! A poetry contest. And I’m off to enter one of mine! ~ Bette A. Stevens

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.