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Literature Glossary

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Internal Rhyme

Definition:

You know who's really awesome at internal rhyme? Rappers.

Enter Eminem:

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy.
There's vomit on his sweater
already, mom's spaghetti.
He's nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and
ready to drop bombs,
but he keeps on forgetting what he wrote
down.
The whole
crowd goes so loud.
He opens his
mouth, but the words won't come out.
He's choking
how, everybody's joking now.
The clock's run
out, times up, over, plow.

We've got sweaty, heavy, already, spaghetti, ready, forgetting.

And then there's down, crowd, loud, mouth, out, how, now, out, plow.

And that doesn't even include the slant rhymes like palms and arms and calm and bombs and oh we could go on forever. Seriously, spend ten minutes with this song and you'll find enough rhymes and repeated sounds to, well, lose yourself. We're just scratching the surface here, so by all means, Shmoopers, keep digging.

But now back to the matter at hand: internal rhyme. As it turns out, internal rhyme is exactly what it sounds like—rhymes that occur within a line, or in the middle of lines that are near each other.

So in the first line of "Lose Yourself," we've got the internal rhyme of sweaty and heavy, which also internally rhymes with already and spaghetti from the next line.

Think of a poem like an echo chamber. When it rhymes internally, those echoes are bouncing off the walls like nobody's business. They're not all neat and pretty and buttoned up at the ends of lines. They're everywhere. And they're after you.

Internal rhymes come in all shapes and sizes. If you want to get strict about it, you can look for only perfect internal rhymes, like loud and crowd. Then there are the ones that are close enough to be getting on with, like heavy and already. Technically those sounds aren't exactly the same, but Eminem makes it work.

There are also more subtle forms of internal rhyme, like assonance, alliteration, and consonance. Basically, if you hear repeated sounds in the middle of lines of poetry, you're probably hearing internal rhyme of some sort, even if you're not quite sure of the technical term. But hey, internal rhyme is a technical term all its own, so drop it and impress your friends.