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Whereas Cummings merely evokes the sonnet’s traditional meter without fully deploying it, he actively uses the sonnet’s conventional rhyme scheme throughout the poem. An English sonnet typically uses the following rhyme scheme: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. At first glance, it may not seem that Cummings uses many rhymes at all, particularly in the opening lines of the poem. On closer inspection, however, a semblance of rhyme persists throughout the poem, particularly if we open our ears to slant rhyme, which is a term referring to words with similar but not identical sounds. In the opening quatrain, for instance, we can glimpse a very subtle ABAB rhyme scheme. The first slant rhyme occurs between “in” and “done” (lines 1 and 3). If we consider the short fifth line as an appendix to the opening quatrain, we can see another slant rhyme between “anywhere” and “fear” (lines 2 and 5).
Whereas the rhymes in the opening quatrain are very faint, the rhymes in the rest of the poem grow increasingly obvious and more pronounced. In the second quatrain, we can identify a clear alternating structure that forms one rhyme between “want” and “meant” (lines 6 and 8), and another rhyme between “true” and “you” (lines 7 and 9). Although the first example still counts as a slant rhyme, the second is clear and exact. The rhymes remain relatively strong throughout the final eight lines of the poem. Admittedly, the pairing between “bud” and “hide” (lines 11 and 13) is another example of slant rhyme. However, the rhymes between “knows” and “grows” (lines 10 and 12) and between “apart” and “heart” (lines 14 and 15) are both perfect. What all this means is that, though the rhymes don’t always seem obvious, and particularly not at first, the poem does nonetheless deploy the traditional sonnet rhyme scheme from beginning to end. The fact that the poem ends with the sonnet’s standard closing couplet confirms the reader’s growing sense that “i carry your heart with me” is perhaps more formally conventional that it initially appears.