A rhymed couplet, also known as a rhyming couplet, is a couplet that features rhyming words at the end of each of its two lines. Similar to the two lines of poetry within an un-rhymed couplet, those within a rhymed couplet have the same meter as one another. Although the rhymed couplet is one of the simplest types of poems, famous poets throughout history have used it to write poems that are still taught, read, and performed today.
It might be easier to understand the definition of a rhymed couplet after first understanding couplets themselves. A couplet is one entity within a poem that actually is made up of two lines of poetry. There are different types of couplets, but the one feature that all types of couplets share involves poetry lines with matching meter. In poetry terms, the meter is the rhythmic structure of one or more lines within a poem. Like couplets, there are different types of meter, but perhaps the identifying factor most commonly used with meter are syllables, including their patterns and emphasis.
Poets often experiment with couplets, but the two most basic types of couplets are the un-rhymed couplet and the rhymed couplet. The un-rhymed couplet features two lines that share the same meter, but do no end with words that rhyme. The rhymed couplet, on the other hand, features two lines that both share the same meter and end in words that rhyme with one another.
“The cat chased after the bird / The bird flew home to its nest” is an example of an un-rhymed couplet. The two lines share the same meter, which usually is necessary for a couplet to be considered a couplet. Yet, “bird” and “nest” do not rhyme, so the example is one of an un-rhymed couplet. An example of a rhymed couplet is, “The dog barked at the cat / The fish put on a hat.” Both lines share the same meter, and “cat” and “hat” rhyme.
Often, students begin learning how to recognize and write rhyming couplets early on. Perhaps this is because the rhymed couplet is one of the simplest types of poems. Still, rhyming couplets are features in well-known poems throughout the ages. In addition to William Shakespeare, historical poets like Alexander Pope, John Dryden, and Christopher Marlowe often used rhyming couplets in their poetry. Perhaps one of the most well-recognized pieces involving rhyming couplets is The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.