Outer composition

James Thomson’s poem “Rule, Britannia!” has the form of a song, with each stanza or verse followed by a repeated chorus: “ ‘Rule, Britannia! rule the waves: / Britons never will be slaves.’ ” The poem was written as part of a musical play, and the words were set to music by Thomas Arne. It is now more famous as a song than as a poem.

The poem features six four-line stanzas, each of which is followed by a repeated two-line chorus. Each stanza and chorus has the following rhyme scheme: ABAB CC. For example:

When Britain first, at Heaven's command
Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sung this strain:

‘Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
‘Britons never will be slaves.’ (ll. 1-6)

The repetition of the chorus highlight...

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