Monday, March 6, 2006

The Complete Rhyming Dictionary, Edited by Clement Wood



By Christina VanGinkel

The first time I saw this little yellow paperback book at my local bookstore, The Complete Rhyming Dictionary, Edited by Clement Wood, and Revised by Ronald Bogus, also titled on the inside as The Poet's Craft Book, I was intrigued. With the cover stating that it was the essential handbook for songwriters, poets, students, teachers, speechmakers, and members of the performing arts, I was not sure if it was the book I was looking for, as I wrote children's stories, yet I bought it, and have never regretted my decision. Be warned though, that if you buy this book, you will become a better at writing rhyme!


I love to write for children, and I often write in rhyme, yet at the time I picked up this book, I was under the impression that I knew how to rhyme. I did, but this book took my knowledge and helped me fine-tune it. A collection of over 60,000 rhymes, broken into categories that are easy to search; it is separated into one, two, and three syllable rhymes. Not only have I found this book helpful by providing me with words that I might never have thought to use when looking for the perfect rhyme, my son also commonly reaches for it when doing schoolwork.

At the beginning of this book, before the dictionary part begins, are also several useful chapters on poetry and versification. The first chapter actually discusses such issues as how poems come to be, how original one should and can be when penning words, what a poet needs as far as equipment (technique), and what poetry is. The second chapter is The Technique of Versification: Rhythm. This is the chapter that has been read the most by me. I have read it, reread it, and will read it again, every time I pick up this book. In this chapter is an explanation both in words and visually, of what accent and rhythm are. If you ever wondered exactly what meter and metric feet, Iambic Verse, Trochaic Verse, Anapestic Verse, and Dactylic Verse are, this chapter clearly explains each of these. It then goes on to clearly define variations in metric verse, Blank Verse and Free Verse. It also gives a viewpoint on line length in verse, and other subjects. Finally, it goes over what are considered important classical terms for poetic devices. You will get clear definitions for words such as Monometer, Heptameter, Choriamb, and Arsis.

The third chapter covers the Technique of Versification: Rhyme. It jumps right into the correct and incorrect rhyme. Providing a look at words that rhyme but that might appear they do not, because they are spelled quite differently, and words that look like they rhyme, because their end spelling is the same, but they do not rhyme because they sound so much different. This chapter also covers Function and Types of Rhyme, Undesirable Rhymes, Alliteration, Assonance, Consonance, and a section on creating one's own mental rhyming dictionary, for those times you just cannot have, or find yourself without, a rhyming dictionary.

Chapter 4 covers the Stanza Patterns, including the Couplet, the Triplet, or Tercet, the Quatrain, and stanzas of more than four lines. This chapter also covers Certain Other Stanzas, Sapphics and Other Classic Forms, and Indentation. The section on Indentation is very helpful, and takes the time to explain why something as simple as indentation can help define a poem.

Chapter five goes over the different Divisions of Poetry, including Narrative Poetry, Epic, Metrical Romance, Tale, Ballad, and Dramatic Poetry. It also defines Lyric Poetry, including Ode, Elegy, and Pastoral, The Simple Lyric: The Song, and The Sonnet.

There is also a chapter on The French Forms, Light and Humorous Verse, one on Poetry and Technique, and finally a chapter on The Complete Rhyming Dictionary, which breaks down What Rhyme is, The Vowel Sounds, The Consonant Sounds, Sound Does Not Depend on Spelling, and how the dictionary in hand Makes Consonance Accurate.

The dictionary itself is then separated into three parts, for ease of searching for that perfect word, including:

Monosyllables and Words Accented on the Last Syllable: Masculine Rhymes: Single Rhymes

Words Accented on the Syllable before the Last: Penults; Feminine Rhymes; Double Rhymes

Words Accented on the Third Syllable from the End: Antepenults; Triple Rhymes

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