Monday, February 02, 2009

Monday Poetry Stretch - Diminishing Rhyme

I am still working my way through The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach, jotting ideas in one of the many journals I have tucked away. This week I want to try an exercise from this book entitled Emotion/Motion/Ocean/Shun. Here's what Susan Mitchell writes:
If you read the title of this exercise aloud, you will hear a quadruple rhyme. But if you examine the words themselves, you will notice that there is something special about this rhyme scheme. The sound shun is contained in ocean, the sounds of both shun and ocean in motion, and shun, ocean and motion can all be folded into emotion. Such a rhyme scheme, which incidentally was favored by the seventeenth-century poet George Herbert, is called diminishing rhyme because the rhyme words get smaller as you move from emotion to shun. But I prefer the term nesting rhymes because the words nest one inside the other like Russian wooden dolls.
Here is an example of this form from the George Herbert poem "Paradise".
I bless Thee, Lord, because I grow
Among the trees, which in a row
To Thee both fruit and order ow
So, that's it. Your challenge is to write a poem that uses diminishing rhyme. Leave me a comment about your piece and I'll post the results here later this week.


  1. Tough. I had to cheat. Some verses arde taken from the left, some from the right.

    A Poem About Art

    I pick my pen up, then I start,
    Should I be gentle, or be tart
    In my art?

    Some words come fast, some come slow,
    Some are LOUD and some are low,
    Some I still ow.

    But when at last the thing is done,
    And when at last pjs I don
    This last I do—

    Set pen and paper near at hand,
    Should dreams bring further poems and
    Art does not (e)nd.

    Jane Yolen

  2. I write this poem as Jacqueline
    with a mind that's sharply aquiline,
    my thoughts soar high and then align
    transposed on paper line by line
    using of my brain each atom and ion.

    Others ideas I must not pirate!
    for it would make them rather irate.
    Instead I battle with feeling second rate
    until seeing through the eyes of one whose eight.
    2/04/2009 8:21 AM

  3. Thanks for another fun challenge, Tricia. I posted my poem, "Lunatic's Lullaby," over at Under the Covers.

  4. The heart is clever.
    Love’s art never turns from gold to rust,
    When one’s beloved turns to dust.
    The balm that lifts the lever and gives wing,
    Is belief that together, two hearts will ever sing.
    Through its own device
    --here and after --
    One loves twice.

  5. I am late finding this. I have been trying to get more people to try Mitchell's exercise, and I just don't have any takers. I wrote a series, and while not for children, I think children could appreciate these two nesting poems which are also about bird nesting!
    Thanks so much for this post!