Rhyming conventions of Early Modern English
Andrew Marvell's poem To His Coy Mistress from the mid-1600's follows an AABBCCDD[...] rhyming pattern. Therefore, it is jarring when we get to the couplets:
And yonder all before us lie/ Deserts of vast eternity
then worms shall try/ That long-preserved virginity
This implies that either:
- "lie" used to be pronounced as "lee" to rhyme with "eternity", and "try" used to be pronounced "tree" to rhyme with "virginity", or
- much more likely, both "eternity" and "virginity" used to rhyme with "lie"/ "try".
Is this the case? If so, did this apply only to a few words like "eternity" and "virginity", or to anything with the super-common "-ity" prefix, like "formality", "ability", or any of the words listed here? And furthermore, if that is also the case, then when in the last 300 years did the change happen so quickly and so thoroughly that I cannot think of a single present-day "-ity" word that rhymes with "try"?