Slant Rhyme Examples in Poetry

Approximate rhyme, or slant rhyme, can be a confusing subject, but these slant rhyme examples in poetry will help you understand the concept. See how similar-sounding words take the place of words that rhyme completely in these examples.

Slant Rhyme Examples in Poetry Slant Rhyme Examples in Poetry
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Almost a Rhyme

Slant rhyme goes by several different names. These include approximate rhyme, half rhyme, near rhyme, oblique rhyme, and imperfect rhyme. As confusing as this may sound, all these terms mean the same thing: two or more words that almost rhyme (but not quite).

The key difference between perfect and imperfect rhymes is whether the rhyme is exact. For instance:

  • "Cat" and "sat" are perfect rhymes.
  • "Cat" and "sad" are imperfect rhymes.

The word endings in imperfect rhymes sound similar but not exactly the same.

Five Examples of Near Rhyme in Poetry

Approximate rhyme examples are the best way to understand this concept. Some poets and poetry forms make extensive use of this technique, and others use it sparingly. Some use it at the end of lines, and some use it as internal rhyme within a line. You'll see it in couplets, ABAB rhyme schemes, and many other patterns. Either way, it's a handy writing technique to have in your toolbox.

Hope Is a Thing With Feathers

"Hope Is a Thing With Feathers" by Emily Dickinson offers an example of approximate rhyme. Here, Dickinson rhymes "all" and "soul," two words that sound similar but don't really rhyme perfectly.

Hope is a thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all….

Then Hate Me When Thou Wilt

William Shakespeare's sonnet "Then Hate Me When Thou Wilt" also makes use of slant rhyme. Here, to keep to the rhyme scheme of his sonnet, Shakespeare uses an imperfect rhyme of "last" and "taste."

If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,

When other petty griefs have done their spite,

But in the onset come; so I shall taste

At first the very worst of fortune's might….

How Do I Love Thee?

Elizabeth Barrett Browning's famous love sonnet "How Do I Love Thee?" is another great example of slant rhyme in poetry. Here, the rhyme scheme is ABBA in the first four lines, but she makes an approximate rhyme of "ways" and "Grace."

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal of Grace.

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Ozymandias

"Ozymandias" by Percy Byssche Shelley is another excellent slant rhyme example in poetry. This sonnet uses a complex rhyme scheme filled with oblique rhymes. The first four lines, which have the rhyming pattern ABAB, use a near rhyme of "stone" and "frown."

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown….

Those We Love the Best

Sometimes, slant rhyme is based on a similar spelling instead of a similar pronunciation of a word. In one stanza of her poem "Those We Love the Best," Ella Wheeler Wilcox rhymes "found" and "wound," two words with similar spelling but different sounds.

One great truth in life I've found,

While journeying in the West --

The only folks we really wound,

Are those we love the best.

Writing a Poem With Slant Rhyme

If you're writing a poem, using slant rhyme opens up a lot of possibilities for you. You aren't limited to words that rhyme perfectly. Using this type of approximate rhyme also gives your poem a less stilted, more informal feeling.

Starting With Perfect Rhyme

For example, imagine you are writing a poem about apples that have fallen on the ground from the tree. If you use perfect rhyme, it would look like this:

As we walk along the orchard rows,

The ground is filled with fallen fruit.

And as we step, we smell the scent

Of apples crushed under a boot.

Trying Slant Rhyme Instead

Perfect rhyme makes the poem feel a little stilted, and you have to work to find a rhyming word. You may not want to be specific about footwear just to make the poem rhyme. If you change "boot" to "foot," the poem has a more natural sound:

As we walk along the orchard rows,

The ground is filled with fallen fruit.

And as we step, we smell the scent

Of apples crushed under foot.

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An Important Poetry Term

As you read poetry, slant rhyme is one of many concepts that are helpful to understand. Brush up on essential poetry terms so you can better enjoy your favorite poets and poems, and discuss them with others.