Poetry Kaleidoscope: Guide to Poetry

Feminine Rhyme

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A feminine rhyme, in English prosody, is a rhyme that matches two or more syllables at the end of the respective lines. Usually the final syllable is unaccented. Shakespeare's Sonnet number 20, uniquely among the sonnets, makes use exclusively of feminine rhymes:

A woman's face with nature's own hand painted,
Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion;
A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women's fashion...

But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure.

Feminine rhyme is relatively rare in English poetry and usually appears as a special effect. However, the Hudibrastic relies upon feminine rhyme for its comedy, and limericks will often employ outlandish feminine rhymes for their humor.

In French verse, a feminine rhyme is one in which the final syllable is a "silent" e, even if the word is masculine. In classical French poetry, two feminine rhymes cannot occur in succession.


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