Category Archives: stress

Writing in Rhyme Tip 4 – The Anapaest

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dr-seuss-s-book-of-bedtime-stories

Last time I talked about a type of meter called the IAMB.

Today I am going to talk about the ANAPAEST.

To use ‘dancing’ as a metaphor for meter, the iamb might be likened to a march da DUM, da DUM, da DUM, etc where the anapaest would be a waltz da da DUM, da da DUM, da da DUM, da da DUM.

Seuss was particularly fond of this type of meter and many of his verse stories are written this way.

The first story in Dr. Seuss’ Book of Bedtime Stories is called Dr. Seuss’ Sleep Book. Here is the first verse.

 

 

 

The news just came in

From the County of Keck

That a very small bug

By the name of Van Vleck

Is yawning so wide

You can see down his neck.

 

When we pop this into a syllable grid here’s what we can see..

 

The news just came in from the Coun ty of Keck
That a ve ry small bug by the name of Van Vleck
Is yaw ning so wide you can see down his neck

 

And here’s the first verse from Horton Hears a Who!

 

On the fifteenth of May in the Jungle of Nool

In the heat of the day in the cool of the Pool

He was splashing…enjoying the jungle’s great joys…

When Horton the elephant heard a small noise

 

On the fif teenth of May in the Jun gle of Nool
In the heat of the day in the cool of the Pool
He was splash ing en joy ing the jun gle’s great joys
When Hor ton the el e phant heard a small noise

 

As you can see, the pattern is quite distinct. Each line contains 4 stressed syllables separated by two unstressed ones.

In the last line we’re introduced to Horton the elephant. Here are some other characters that would fit the meter…

 

Shirley the crocodile

Martin the Terrier

Freddy the butterfly

 

Here are some that don’t…

 

Frank the mongoose

Jacqueline the chook

Marmaduke the Great White Shark

 

And here’s why…

 

Shirley the crocodile

Martin the terrier

Freddy the butterfly

 

When Shir ley the croc o dile heard a small noise
When Mar tin the te rri er heard a small noise
When Fre ddy the butt er fly heard a small noise

 

Frank the mongoose

Jacqueline the chook

Marmaduke the Great White Shark

 

When Hor ton the el e phant heard a small noise  
When Frank the mon goose heard a small noise      
When Jac que line the chook heard a small noise    
When Mar ma duke the Great White Shark heard a small noise

 

If I really wanted to use the name Jacqueline this is how I could do it and stay true to the meter…

 

When Jacqueline chicken perceived a small noise.

 

When Hor ton the el e phant heard a small noise
When Jac que line chick en per ceived a small noise

 

Okay I’ll leave it there.

 

Happy rhyming 🙂

 

Writing in Rhyme Tip 3 – Meter

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Cute1-KeylimePie1

Today’s tip looks at METER.

Meter is the the pattern created by the ordering of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of verse.

Here is what some Australian publishers of Children’s books had to say when asked the question…

What are the most common difficulties that writers in rhyme encounter?

They haven’t got a sense of timing – rhythm or flow.

Metre metre, metre! So few submissions have pleasing, easy metre. Read your poem aloud. Do you have to work hard to fit your words into your metre? Do you adjust the stress on ANY of thewords (i.e. do you say them differently to the way you say them in natural speech)? Rewrite those lines!! I cannot emphasise enough how important metre is to poetry.

They think the rhyme excuses a whole lot of other flaws, including poor rhymes. Rhyming is a subtle and complex art that deserves years of study and then you have to make it work for children and then in a picture book format. You need a great story first and one that works for children, which has a proper beginning, middle and end.

Bad rhythm and forced rhyme. There should be no extra words to get the rhythm to work ‘such as the lion did say” instead of ‘said’ or reversals of words to get the rhyme, ie  ‘lion blue’ to rhyme with ‘you’ instead of blue lion. In other words the rhyme has to be very natural. The other thing to bear in mind is that many people don’t have a natural sense of rhythm anyway, and read rhyme and the emphasis on the words differently. The rhyme has to be very consistent to avoid such differences. The other thing I find is that the necessity to rhyme often means that the story goes in different directions when inexperienced writers attempt to write rhyme, so there can be dead spots in the story or extraneous material (if that makes sense). It is very difficult to get good succinct rhyme which keeps to the storyline. Rhyme that works better is when writers are not trying to write rhyming couplets, but stick to a simple repetitive couplet such as ‘I went walking. What did you see. I saw a red cow looking at me.’  Or ‘Let’s go visiting what do you say. Two black kittens are ready to play.’

Rhythms and rhymes that are “not quite there”.

To help us understand what exactly this thing called METER is I am going to engage the help of two very famous children’s authors, Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss.

In front of me I have two books, one by Roald Dahl called Dirty Beasts.

The other by Dr. Seuss called Dr. Seuss’s Book of Bedtime Stories. Both are collections of stories written in rhyme and both, quite frankly, are brilliant!

I’m going to begin with Roald Dahl’s book, Dirty Beasts to help explain a type of meter known as the IAMB.

Dirty Beasts

The very first story, in the book is called The Pig and here are the first four lines..

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In England once there lived a big

And wonderfully clever pig.

To everybody it was plain

That Piggy had a massive brain

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When we insert this verse into a “syllables grid” and we bold the stressed syllables, this is the pattern that emerges…

In Eng land once there lived a big
And won der fu lly cle ver pig
To eve ry bo dy it was plain
That Pi ggy had a ma ssive brain

Iambic meter then, is the the rhythm created by alternating one unstressed syllable and one stressed syllable –

|da DUM | da DUM | da DUM | da DUM | with each da DUM chunk being called a FOOT.

Each of Dahl’s lines contain 4 iambic feet so the verse above is written in iambic tetrameter.

Now every one of Dahl’s stories and there are nine in this collection, is written in iambic tetrameter so if this is a meter that you enjoy I would encourage you to read every one of them.

I will leave you with the first four lines of the final story in the collection called The Tummy Beast

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Once afternoon I said to mummy,

“Who is this person in my tummy?

“He must be small and very thin

Or how could he have gotten in?”

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Next time we will explore the meter known as the ANAPAEST, a favourite of Dr. Seuss.

Until then, happy rhyming 🙂

Writing in Rhyme Tip 2 – Stress

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So today’s tip focuses on syllable stress and the easiest way to do that, I think, is to look at words known as heteronyms.

A heteronym is…, according to the definition found on The Heteronym Page

…a word that has the same spelling as another word but with a different pronunciation and meaning.

The words that I’d like to concentrate on are the ones whose definition changes according the position of the stress placed upon it.

Here are some examples.

Desert

If you stress the first syllable DEZ-urt – you are describing a dry, baron place.

If you stress the second syllable di-ZURT – this is a verb meaning to abandon.

Following is a couplet that looks like it should rhyme but it does not. Why doesn’t it?

 

I feel that I must now assert

That Simpson’s a sandy desert

If we bold the syllables, that in natural speech, are stressed, we’ll find that a pattern emerges.

 

i FEEL that i MUST now aSSERT

That SIMPson’s a SANdy DESert

Can you see the problem?

The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables has been disrupted.

The previously established pattern (stressed, unstressed, unstressed, stressed, unstressed unstressed, stressed) requires the reader to mispronounce the word “desert” so that the stress falls on the second syllable.

While this scenario is unlikely I think it highlights a common problem when writing in rhyme.

Another example that I use in my book “Rhyme Like the Experts” may help to clarify the issue.

 

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
Filled her mouth with one strawberry

So in order for this to rhyme, the writer needs the reader to mispronounce the word “strawberry” so that it sounds like this… strawBEHrry to rhyme with conTRAHry.

What I urge all writers of rhyme to do is to get their work read aloud by someone else. A fresh eye will immediately pick up where the writer has manipulated a word to fit the meter. The new reader will read the words as they would in natural speech and will trip up if the pattern is disrupted due to the stress position of certain words.

Clear as mud?

If you have any questions, please post them below in the comments section.

Happy rhyming :-)

 

RHYME LIKE THE EXPERTS

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RHYME LIKE THE EXPERTS is a PDF booklet to help would be writers of rhyme do just that.

Written simply it explains concepts such as…

  • SYLLABLES
  • WORD STRESS
  • METRICAL FEET
  • METER
  • RHYME
  • COMMON MISTAKES

While it doesn’t use an abundance of techinical or complicated language it does introduce you to some poetic terms.

For example, did you know that the English language natually contains words that can be described as Iambs?

An Iamb is a cluster of two syllables or language sounds that comprise one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable.

Iambic words would include…

pretend

forget

divulge

On my poetry tips blog I have likend writing iambic verse to knitting (scroll down to Tip 3), knit one, pearl one…

And to give an example of a verse written in iambic pentameter [where pentameter = 5 iambic feet (syllable chunks)]

Here’s one I prepared earlier…

I’ve searched and searched my archives deepest files

It’s taken quite substantial blocks of time

And though I’ve written verse in range of styles

Iambic pent-a-meter’s not my rhyme

Below is what I call a syllable grid – which illustrates which syllables are stressed and which are not – thus revealing the pattern or meter.

I’ve searched and searched my ar chives deep est files
It’s ta ken quite sub stan tial blocks of time
And though I’ve wri tten verse in range of styles
I am bic pent a me ter’s not my rhyme

Anonymous poet No. 8

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Humpty Dumpty

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When Humpty Dumpty was a boy
he asked his hard-boiled mum
“Why didn’t you boil me longer,
so if I broke I wouldn’t run?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As you can see Anonymous poet No. 8 is also a very talented illustrator.

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Inserted into a syllable grid we have…

 

 

 

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When Hump ty Dum ty was a boy
he asked his hard boiled mum
Why did n’t you boil me long er
so if I broke I would n’t run

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The first two lines read smoothly with a consistent iambic meter.

The second two, not so smooth. I would suggest…

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When Hump ty Dum ty was a boy
he told his hard boiled mum
You should have boiled me long er
Now I’m broke and on the run

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I’ve been a bit cheeky here but I couldn’t resist..

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When Humpty Dumpty was a boy
he told his hard-boiled mum
“You should have boiled me longer;
now I’m broke, and on the run!”

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Thank you Anonymous poet No. 8 please expect my e-book shortly.

Anonymous poet No. 7

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Some live in houses, and some live in huts.

Some carry water and some gather nuts.

Each child is different yet all are the same.

With dreams of a future while still playing games.

 

 

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Children are the same from their head to their toes

Just different coloured skin and shape of their nose.

Some children dance and sway with the breeze

While others like to tussle and climb up the trees.

 

 

 

I’ll work on this is two parts.

 

 

First part…

 

 

 

  Some live in hous es and some live in huts
  Some carr y wa ter and some gath er nuts
  Each child is differ ent yet all are the same
With dreams of a fut ure while still play ing games

 

 

No problem with meter in this first verse. As you can see there is a consistent pattern – one stressed syllable and two unstressed syllables. My only comment is with line 4 where some folk will want to place a stress on the first syllable PLAYing. To avoid this possible trip up point I would suggest…

 

 

They dream of a fut ure while play ing with games

 

 

Not perfect but just trying to demonstrate that it is preferable to use word stress in its natural state as this is how the average reader will read it.

 

Also you’ll note that I’ve split the word ‘different’ into two syllables rather than three. This is because that is how most people pronounce it. Not too many say diff-er-ent – of course some will and they will trip here.

Second part…

 

 

Children are the same from their head to their toes

Just different coloured skin and shape of their nose.

Some children dance and sway with the breeze

While others like to tussle and climb up the trees.

 

 

Chil dren are the same from their head to their toes  
Just differ ent col oured skin and shape of their nose  
Some chil dren dance and sway with the breeze      
While oth ers like to tuss le and climb up the trees

 

 

You can see that this verse is a little less structured which is jarring after reading the first verse. I would suggest…

 

 

  Kids are the same from their head to their toes
Their skin chang ing shade with the shape of their nose
  Some child ren dance as they sway with the breeze
While oth ers like tuss ling and climb ing up trees

 

 

Thank you Anonymous poet No. 7. I’ll be sending you a copy of my e-book “How to write Rhyme like the Experts”.

Anonymous poet No.6

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FLIGHT TO JAPAN

 

Bumpity bump through the sky

Who said this big bird can fly

When do you think we will be there?

We can’t get off in the air.

 

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Packed like sardines in a can

In this big hibiscus van

As we wing off through the sky

Japanese staff are nearby.

.

 

 

 

 

 

Bum pi tiy bump through the sky
Who said this big bird can fly  
When do you think we will be there
We can’t get off in the air  
Packed like sar dines in a can  
In this big hi bis cus van  
As we wing off through the sky  
Ja pan ese staff are near by  

 

 

 

I think I’ll break this one down into its rhyming couplets.

 

When I first read this I paused after ‘bump’ which threw out the second line.

 

 

This is how I read it…

 

Bum pi tiy bump ~ through the sky
Who said this big bird can fly  

 

And I wanted to change the second line to…

 

Who was it said this bird can fly

 

Bumpity bump; through the sky

Who was it said, this bird can fly

 

If we read it without the pause we get…

 

 

Bum pi tiy bump through the sky
Who said this big bird can fly

 

however some people will want to stress the word ‘said’ rather than ‘who’ I know I do. I’d prefer to say…

 

Who said that this big bird can fly

 

Bumpity bump through the sky

Who said that this big bird can fly?

 

Next couplet…

 

When do you think we will be there
We can’t get off in the air  

 

 

So to keep with the meter I would suggest

 

When do you think we’ll be there
We can’t dis em bark in the air

 

When do you think we’ll be there?

We can’t disembark in the air

 

Next couplet…

 

Packed like sar dines in a can
In this big hi bis cus van

 

To use the word hibiscus we need to fit it here…

 

Packed like sar dines in a can
    hi bis cus    

 

So…

 

Packed like sar dines in a can
In side this hi bis cus se dan

 

Hmmmm – not sure about a hibiscus sedan. Maybe try changing the first line.

 

Packed like sar dines in a flan
In side this hi bis cus tin can

 

Packed like sardines in a flan

Inside this hibiscus tin can

 

Moving on…

 

As we wing off through the sky
Ja pan ese staff are near by

 

 

 

  Soar ing a round in the sky
With Jap an ese staff stand ing by

 

So we now have…

 

Bumpity bump through the sky

Who said that this big bird can fly?

When do you think we’ll be there?

We can’t disembark in the air

Packed like sardines in a flan

Inside this hibiscus tin can

Soaring around in the sky

With Japanese staff standing by

 

 

If we now insert this into a syllable grid we get…

 

 

  Bum pi tiy bump through the sky
Who said that this big bird can fly
  When do you think we’ll be there
We can’t dis em bark in the air
  Packed like sar dines in a flan
In side this hi bis cus tin can
  Soar ing a round in the sky
With Ja pan ese staff stand ing by

 

 

Thank you Anonymous poet No. 6. My e-book is on its way.

Anonymous poet No. 5

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Here is a verse from a rhyming story I wrote.

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He just about had her; this was it, this was it!!

But then, oh my goodness, do you know what she did?

She turned around slowly. She could smell him you see.

I did say he was stinky. He was very smelly.

 

Straight into this one…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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He just a bout had her ; this was it this was it
But then oh my good ness , do you know what she did
She turned a round slow ly . She could smell him you see
I did say he was stink y He was ve ry smell y

 

 

 

This one has an interesting meter that can’t really be categorised easily. Having said that you can still see that the pattern is predicable, all except for the last line so let’s work on that one.

 

 

I did say he was stink y He was ve ry smell y

 

So you can see that there is an extra syllable in the first part of the line. The author will know to rush over these words so that they fit into two beats instead of three. Some new readers will do this too, some will not. Best to remove the potential problem.

 

The second issue is a very common mistake made when writing in rhyme. Even though the last syllable in the word ‘smelly’ ends in an ‘ee’ sound, it is an unstressed syllable. In order is rhyme ‘smelly’ with ‘see’ the reader is expected to pronounce the word ‘smelly’ incorrectly. The correct pronunciation is SMELLy with the stress falling on SMELL – like jelly, belly etc. So to rhyme with ‘you see’ we need to say jell-EE.

The word ‘very’ though not as obvious, is often, in natural speech rushed over and so can be regarded as a one syllable word. You really have to enunciate to get two beats out of it.

 

Having said that what would I suggest?

 

Perhaps…

 

 

I said he was stink y . Well he smelled terr i bly

 

or, if you want to jazz it up a little…

 

He was pu trid and rot ten . And he smelled terr i bly

 

 

Although not perfect, I’m not thrilled with ‘terribly’ though I think it is an improvement, I’m sure you can see what I mean. Also note that there are two syllables at the beginning of the line – again in natural speech you would tend to blend this into one beat so the rhythm of the line is not interrupted.

 

The other option is to change the previous line…

 

She turned a round slow ly . She could smell him you know
He was pu trid and rot ten . From his head to his toe

 

I think I prefer this.

 

Thanks Anonymous poet No. 5. I’ll be sending your e-book “How to write Rhyme like the Experts” directly.

 

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Anonymous poet No. 4

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Jingle Stupid Bells (About a little black cat who thinks he’s a panther.)

Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright…
Ha! I’m the panther in the night.
With tigers Blake was surely taken
But by Bastet, he was mistaken.

Panthers are by far superior
Than all the old tiger hysteria.

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Okay – so I had to do a little research after I read this and will pass on what I learned. This is probably common knowledge but I’ll include it just in case. William Blake wrote a poem ‘The Tiger’ in 1794 that begins…Tiger, tiger, burning bright… And Bastet is the Egyptian cat-headed goddess and I think we all know what panthers are.

Now I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to writing parodies. What makes a parody of a poem work is the ability of the author to stick strictly to the original meter. If you are going to begin your poem with such a famous line then I would expect the rest of the poem to continue in the same fashion. So let’s see how true this one is.

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Here’s the original…

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Ti ger ti ger burn ing bright
In the for ests of the night
What im mor tal hand or eye
Could frame thy fear ful sym me try

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The meter is trochaic (mostly) – a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable with the final foot missing its unstressed mate. In fancy terms this final foot is catalectic.

It is written in rhyming couplets and each stanza or verse has four lines (a quatrain). So the rhyming pattern is AABB

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Ti ger ti ger burn ing bright
Ha I’m the pan ther in the night
With ti gers Blake was sure ly tak en
But by Bas tet he was mis tak en

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Anonymous poet No. 4’s verse is pretty similar with a few exceptions. You’ll note I’ve omitted the last two lines for an easier comparison.

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Line by line edit…

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Line 1

No problems there.

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Line 2

Personally I would recommend removing the “Ha”. I don’t think it adds anything and I found it a bit jarring, wanting to begin the line with a stressed syllable. The rest of the line is good.

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Line 3

Being the stickler I want to begin the line with a stressed syllable so maybe…

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Blake with ti gers he was tak en

 

Line 4

 

But by Bas tet he was mis tak en

From my understanding the author is saying that Bastet prefers panthers to tigers. I’m happy to start the line with an unstressed syllable because Blake has done just that. But two unstressed syllables, no. In fact the meter falls apart in this last line and it is a bit difficult to understand. Using the pronoun ‘he’ is confusing. Who is the ‘he’ referring to, Blake or Bastet? Remembering that not everyone will know who Bastet is. So then I might suggest…

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But Bas tet vows that Blake’s mis tak en

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Lines 5 & 6

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Panthers are by far superior
Than all the old tiger hysteria.

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Pan thers are by far su per i or
Than all the old ti ger hys ter i a
Pan thers are su per i or
To ti ger myth hys ter i a

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And so…

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Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright

I’m the panther in the night

Blake with tigers, he was taken

But Bastet vows that Blake’s mistaken.

Panthers are superior

To tiger myth hysteria

 

Thank you Anonymous poet No 4. Your e-book is on its way.

Anonymous poet No.2

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The Shadow Thief

One day I saw a homeless man,

a beggar on a corner street.

His jacket torn, his trousers worn,

his hat upturned down at his feet.

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‘Some silvers, please, just a few

will feed me till tomorrow noon.’

He rubbed his tummy, grin all gummy,

in hope to hear a chink or two.

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This story in verse is much longer than two verses so I’m just going to edit the first two.

When you read this you will hear immediately that not only does it rhyme but it also has a very strong metrical component so this will be more of a deconstruction than an edit so that you can see why it works.

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One day I saw a home less man
a begg ar on a

cor

ner street
His jack et torn his trou sers worn
his hat up turned down at his feet
his hat up turned be side his feet

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So the meter is iambic – an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.

daDA daDA daDA daDA

And the rhyme pattern is ABCB and there is an internal rhyme in line 3.

I have made a suggestion for line 4 as the original runs two stressed syllables together. In order to keep with the meter, the reader will be expected to place a stress on the word ‘at’. The author will do this instinctively but a new reader may not.

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Some sil vers please , just a few
Some sil vers please but just a few
will feed me till tom orr ow noon
He rubbed his tumm y grin all gumm y
in hope to hear a chink or two
hop ing for a chink or two
listen ing for a chink or two

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Meter is still iambic but the rhyming pattern has changed to ABCA and there is an internal rhyme in line 3 as before.

I’ve added the word ‘but’ to the first line as readers may initially pause at the comma but rush over the words ‘just a few’ to be read as ‘justa few’ leaving the line short. When you add the word ‘but’ ‘just’ becomes stressed.

The suggestion I’ve made for line 4 is a tiny one but I think it makes the rhythm a little smoother. The extra unstressed syllable at the end of line 3 will bump into the unstressed syllable beginning line four. New readers will be expecting a stressed syllable to follow the unstressed ‘y’ and may trip up here.

As I said, this is a much longer poem and the metrical pattern isn’t consistent. I would need a lot more time to edit properly.

Thank you Anonymous poet No. 2  I hope I’ve been of some help and please expect your e-book very soon.