How to: Climbing Rhyme

image courtesy of ~ Artist: William Blake

image courtesy of ~ Artist: William Blake

The poetic style known as climbing rhyme is a classical poetic style from Burma. As with any culture, there are many different lengths and forms of Burmese poetry but a large portion of it has these characteristics:

  • repeated sequence  
  • 3 internally-rhymed lines
  • Lines are 4 syllables each


Internal Rhyme can often be heard in hip-hop and rap. Unlike a good portion of verse in English, internal rhymes do not typically occur at the end of a line. But this style uses a 4-3-2 scheme, meaning that the rhyme starts in the fourth syllable of line one, continues in the 3rd syllable of line two, and finishes in the 2 syllable of line three. Then a new rhyme starts the pattern again until the end of the poem. This stair-step pattern is the reason this style is calling climbing rhyme.

 In longer poems, the poet would occasionally throw in a line that broke the pattern to avoid monotony. No one wants to bore their readers. The poem often ends with a longer line of 5-7-9 or sometimes even 11 syllables, used to sort of tighten everything up or introduce a twist.

 For example:

 Each in his time by Larry Gross

Living’s merely the stage
untutored actors age on—
nothing sage, nothing profound
happens, only drowned emotions
some uncrowned king inside
continues to hide, refuses
to stride the world
unfettered, flag unfurled against
fate’s hurled arrows, cannot
invent his plot, must
speak what is penned
for him, suspend himself,
amend, pretend until he
becomes someone free, someone
striding Galilee, crowned messiah
in a world he never meant to be.

 I tried this out and had a harder time than I expected. It wasn’t the rhyming that gave me trouble though. It was the syllable restriction. 🙂 Syllable counting is not a strong point of mine apparently.

 My attempt:

Climbing Rhyme

 Write poems that climb

Penning rhyme one

Thought line in time.

For poems climb, one

Thought rhyme in a line.


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