In his memoir Nice Work If You Can Get It Michael Feinstein tells of performing Ray Jessel’s Wanna Sing a Show Tune for an audience that included Stephen Sondheim. The song contains the following – ahem – couplet:
“… let me tell you how fond I’m / of anything by Berlin or Rodgers or Sondheim”
Sondheim reportedly put his head in his hands the second he heard the name-check coming, and there his head remained until well after the song was over.
Sure, the rhyme’s not perfect (where’s the “h”?), but I think what really caused him physical pain was the syntactic inversion (Ira Gershwin did it with “I’m bidin’ my time / ‘cos that’s the kinda guy I’m”).
Which leaves this challenge: how to rhyme ‘Sondheim’ without omitting any sounds? That’s a two-syllable rhyme, emphasis on the first syllable. And no syntactic inversions! I’m sorry to say that my solution is ribald:
I’ve had blonde hymen and Grande hymen, / But beyond hymen is Sondheimmin’.