- Domino Rhyme is a very clever innovation of Bob Newman which can be found at his site as well as many others on the internet. Much like a slinky, rhymes tumble from stanza to stanza, it is something he calls “remote rhyming”.The Domino Rhyme is:
- stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains.
- metered, written in a loose tetrameter. Lines should be same length.
- rhymed. L2 and L3 of the first stanza rhyme with L1 and L4 of the next stanza and so on down until the last stanza when L2 and L3 rhyme with L1 and L4 of the first stanza. abcd befc eghf gijh … iadj.
Thanks to Judi Van Gorder of PMO.
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 don’t 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 it’s many years
Since last I penned a plangent ode.
My old kerchief still bears the knot
I tied then. Why? Remembering’s hard,
For Lethe’s bitter wind has blowed,
Or current swept my thoughts away.
Some lesser poet conjured it –
He’ll 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 women’s earlobes; quipu mnemonic knots in ancient Peru; castrophrenia: the belief that enemies are stealing ones thoughts.
I only know of one other verse form in which every line rhymes, but all the rhymes are external. This is rimas dissolutas.
Thanks to Bob Newman.
My Example Poem
Humility Earned (Domino Rhyme)
She does not think less of herself
for acts she did when she was young
The scars she has are not displayed
invoked, or played upon at all.
New melodies are being sung
by youngsters facing tempting threats.
She works with them in song and verse
her voice each morning an aubade.
She’s risen above her regrets,
and frets not at all ’bout her past
She harvests beauty floating by,
considers grumpiness a curse.
No opportunity’s your last
mistakes like read books on a shelf
are simply signposts for us all
take note, move on, spread wings, and fly.
© Lawrencealot – December 31, 2013