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Poetry: How to Read and Analyse Poetry

8. Rhyme 1: Definition and Degrees

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About this Lecture


In this module, we turn to the use of rhyme in poetry, beginning with a definition of what rhyme actually is, and thinking in detail about the different types of rhyme available to the poet, and the impact that rhyme (or lack of it) can have on meaning.

Poems discussed include: W. B. Yeats’ ‘The Circus Animals’ Desertion’, Wilfred Owen’s ‘Strange Meeting’, ‘Arms and the Boy’ and Geoffrey Hill’s ‘Genesis’.

Poetry credits:

W. B. Yeats, 'The Circus Animals' Desertion', ll. 33-40, from Last Poems and Two Plays (Churchtown, Dublin: Cuala Press, 1939)

Wilfred Owen, 'Strange Meeting', ll. 1-8, and 'Arms and the Boy', ll. 1-4, both from C. Day Lewis, ed., The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen (London: Chatto & Windus, 1963).

Geoffrey Hill, 'Genesis', ll. 1-2 & 36-8, from For the Unfallen: poems 1952-1958 (London: Andre Deutsch, 1959)

Primo Levi, 'Rhyming on the Counterattack', p. 113, in The Mirror Maker: Stories and Essays (trans. Raymond Rosenthal, London: Minerva, 1990)


In this course, Professor John Lennard talks through the craft of poetry in a course that draws on his international bestseller, The Poetry Handbook, which has been a favourite with both sixth-form students and undergraduates since its first publication in 1996. As we move through the course, we look at every technical aspect of poetry, including metre, form, layout, lineation, rhyme, diction, syntax, before thinking about how much readers of poetry should draw on historical and biographical context when analysing and interpreting poetry.

Throughout the course, technical discussion of poetry is richly illustrated with examples from some of the greatest poets in the English language, including: William Shakespeare, George Herbert, John Donne, Andrew Marvell, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Wilfred Owen, W. B. Yeats, Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney, Geoffrey Hill, and Derek Walcott.


Born in Bristol, and educated at Oxford and St Louis, Dr John Lennard has taught English, American, and Commonwealth Literature in Cambridge, London, and Jamaica over more than twenty years. He has written two widely used textbooks (on poetry and drama) and monographs on Shakespeare, Paul Scott, Nabokov, and Faulkner, as well as two collections of essays on contemporary genre writers in crime, science fiction and fantasy, and romance. Enthusiastic, discursive, widely knowledgeable, and a demon for punctuation (on which he has also published extensively), he has been a popular Summer School Course Leader and lecturer for the Institute of Continuing Education since 1992.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Lennard, J. (2018, August 15). Poetry: How to Read and Analyse Poetry - Rhyme 1: Definition and Degrees [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Lennard, J. "Poetry: How to Read and Analyse Poetry – Rhyme 1: Definition and Degrees." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,