Domino rhyme

A poem in domino rhyme is written in four-line stanzas, within which there are no rhymes at all. However, every line rhymes with a line in another stanza. Specifically, lines 2 and 3 of each stanza rhyme with lines 1 and 4 respectively of the next stanza. The final stanza completes the loop, its lines 2 and 3 rhyming with lines 1 and 4 of the first stanza.

Here are the opening few stanzas of a poem written in this form:

from Inspiration Fails
They donít come to me here, the girls
My self-restraint should draw. Who knows	
What force might motivate them; why
Most other hermits pack them in.

My fount of inspiration flows
Most fecund when the buckie ears 
Of buxom women spur it onward.
One tender bite: I versify 

In buckets. But itís many years
Since last I penned a plangent ode.
My old kerchief still bears the knot
I tied then. Why? Rememberingís hard,

For Letheís bitter wind has blowed,
Or current swept my thoughts away.
Some lesser poet conjured it -
Heíll be remembered; I, forgot.

This is the sequel to a poem called Inspiration Falls, and it carries on for quite a lot longer.

Why Domino rhyme? 

The idea is to rhyme without the reader consciously noticing, because the rhymes are unusually far apart - what I call "remote rhyming". With the poem laid out as above, the pattern is relatively easy to spot - but remove the gaps between the stanzas, and the reader is likely to be satisfyingly baffled. 

I call this particular rhyming scheme "domino rhyme" for two reasons. First, because the rhymes ripple through the poem like toppling dominoes. Second, because one of the most popular domino games is called Fives and Threes (or Threes and Fives!) and here pairs of rhyming lines are always either five or three lines apart.

Note for Logophiles

In the example above, each stanza is built around an obscure word which does not actually appear in the poem. (This is not an essential part of the verse form!) The words are: agapetae early churchwomen who lived with celibate men; gynotikolobomassophile one who likes to nibble womenís earlobes; quipu mnemonic knots in ancient Peru; castrophrenia: the belief that enemies are stealing ones thoughts.

Similar forms

I only know of one other verse form in which every line rhymes, but all the rhymes are external. This is rimas dissolutas

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© Bob Newman 2004, 2005. All rights reserved.

This page last updated 01/04/2006