Going with the flow Continuing on the subject of rhymes from last week, have you heard of an ‘eye rhyme’? Once explained, this would elicit a groan from all those who wonder at the vagaries of spelling in the English language, of words that are spelt similarly but pronounced differently – for that’s what eye rhymes are all about.
Here’s one entitled Getting Ready for Eternity, which has an eye rhyme in each line: I see your height, I feel your weight And watch you sew, to hew the new. Laid in my tomb, without a comb, This awful rouge would I gouge – In hubris is debris. A better example, if one exists, would be a poem incorporating all words that end in ‘–ough’, but are pronounced differently. As most word lovers would know, it is by far the sequence of letters with the most unpredictable pronunciation, having at least six pronunciations in North American English (and more than 10 in British English): ‘though’ (as in ‘toe’), ‘through’ (as in ‘true’), ‘cough’ (as in ‘coffin’), ‘thought’ (as in ‘taut’), ‘rough’ (as ‘ruffian’), and ‘bough’ (as in ‘cow’).
As if there weren’t enough rhyme varieties to play with, American poet Ogden Nash came up with yet another: the forced rhyme. In Nash’s world, each poem (usually just one verse) has a little story to tell, and a line ending – usually the last – is sometimes deliberately misspelt (‘forced’) to rhyme with a previous one.
Here’s one called Reflection on Babies: A bit of talcum Is always walcum. Then there’s The Rhinoceros: The rhino is a homely beast, For human eyes he’s not a feast. Farwell, farewell, you old rhinoceros, I’ll stare at something less prepoceros. And one of his best, a favourite among Nash fans for the genius of the last word – The Panther: The panther is like a leopard, Except it hasn’t been peppered. Should you behold a panther crouch, Prepare to say Ouch. Better yet, if called by a panther, Don’t anther.