Rhyme in "My Papa’s Waltz"

The poem is dominated by end rhyme, but each of the first two stanzas contains one slant rhyme, while the rhymes in the final two stanzas are all true. This has the effect of bringing the poem into sharper focus in the last two stanzas. The relative looseness of the first two stanzas gives way to a tightness that leaves us feeling tense and uneasy.

- lines 2 and 4 - "dizzy” and “easy"
These are slant rhymes—that is, inexact rhymes—rather than the true rhymes that dominate the rest of the poem, except for lines 5 and 7. The early stanzas of the poem feel looser as a result.

- lines 5 and 7 - "pans”, “countenance"
Like lines 2 and 4, the last words of these lines constitute the only slant rhymes in the poem. As above, the words do rhyme, but in order to hear the rhyme, the ear has to bend the sounds slightly.

- lines 14 and 16 - "shirt”, “dirt"
The second half of the poem is generally tougher, with short, hard-sounding words and true end rhyme. There are no slant rhymes here; the structure is less relaxed, which leaves the reader feeling tense and uneasy.

Questions for response
1). How does this examination of rhyme change your understanding of how the poem works as a whole?

2). Find other examples of rhyme in the poem. What do they contribute to the work?

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