A Few Identity Crises

What a quiet blog it’s been lately!  Time for some more pedantry and rhyme.

A definition, from the OED Concise online:


noun 1 correspondence of sound between words or the endings of words, especially when used in poetry.

This means that all words rhyme with themselves, and I won’t stand for that.  So here’s mine:


noun 1 correspondence in word endings of all terminal sounds after a differing, stressed consonant sound.

This prevents words from rhyming with themselves, and it also prevents identities from masquerading as rhymes.  Some identities for your delectation:

Everybody say “Amen” (Amen!)
These are the dreams of ordinary men
Dragon, Dreams of Ordinary Men

“Amen” doesn’t rhyme with “men”. Properly speaking, it identifies with it.

I saw her today at the reception
In her glass was a bleeding man
She was practiced at the art of deception …
Rolling Stones, You Can’t Always Get What You Want

If the stressed syllables were “re” and “de”, these two words would rhyme. But this is an attempt to rhyme “sepshun” with “sepshun”, and that ain’t a rhyme.

I will listen hard to your tuition
You will see it come to its fruition
The Police, Wrapped Around Your Finger

Same again, a rhyme of “wishin” with “wishin”. I’m surprised Sting didn’t plump for “nuclear fission”; that would have rhymed.

Anyway, once you start listening for this stuff, you’ll hear it everywhere, and I can’t abide it in my own work.  Identities are quite nice within lines, but they can’t do the heavy lifting at the end of a line. They sound, and are, lazy.

My scrupulous avoidance of near-rhymes and identities in places where perfect rhymes are needed is what makes me sound old-fashioned and, in pop and rock terms, prissy.  But I think I am more to be pitied than despised.


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