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Tail-Rhyme Definition

( rime couée ) This is a French form consisting of two rhymes. First there is a rhyming couplet of normally of eight syllables then a third and shorter line. There is another couplet that rhymes with the first one and the sixth, shorter line that rhymes with the third line. This gives us a suggested pattern : aabccb


A Tail-Rhyme (also known as a tailed-rhyme) is a type of poem that has a very specific structure. In short, the piece begin with either a couplet or a triplet of lines that consist of rhymed lines. This set of either a couplet or triplet is then followed by a "tail", which is a fourth line that does not rhyme with the couplet or triplet that preceded it. This tail line tends to be shorter in length than those lines within the couplet or triplet. This type of poetry can also be used with stanza, known as a tail-rhyme stanza, but in these pieces, all of the tail lines rhyme with each other.

The use of tail rhymes in literature was often found in several different Middle English romance pieces. One great example of this usage of tail rhymes can be found within "The Canterbury Tales" -- More specifically within Chaucer's 'Sir Thopas'. The term also derives from the Latin 'rhythmus caudatus'. 

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