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Rondel

 

Rondel (RAHN-dul) originated from Old French, the diminutive of roont "round", meaning "small circle" (Wikipedia).  Applied to poetry A rondel is a verse form originating in French lyrical poetry, later used in the verse of other languages as well, such as English and Romanian. It is a variation of the rondeau consisting of two quatrains followed by a quintet (13 lines total) or a sestet (14 lines total). The rondel was invented in the 14th century, and is arguably better suited to the French language than to English.

Not to be confused with Roundel, a similar verse form with repeating refrain. In the 15th century the terms "rondel" and "rondeau" seem to have been used interchangeably (Preminger).

The first two lines of the first stanza are refrains, repeating as the last two lines of the second stanza and the third stanza. (Alternately, only the first line is repeated at the end of the final stanza). For instance, if A and B are the refrains, a rondel will have a rhyme scheme of ABba abAB abbaA

The meter is open, but typically has eight syllables.

There are several variations of the rondel, and some inconsistencies. For example, sometimes only the first line of the poem is repeated at the end; or: the second refrain may return at the end of last stanza, making a Rondel Prime ABba abAB
abbaA(B) (aka, Rondel Supreme or French Sonnet) (
Bob's Byway).

Henry Austin Dobson provides the following example of a rondel prime:

Love comes back to his vacant dwelling,                     A
   The old, old Love that we knew of yore!                    B
   We see him stand by the open door,                        b
With his great eyes sad, and his bosom swelling.        a

He makes as though in our arms repelling                   a
   He fain would lie as he lay before;                            b
Love comes back to his vacant dwelling,                     A
   The old, old Love that we knew of yore!                    B

Ah ! who shall help us from over-spelling                     a
   That sweet, forgotten, forbidden lore?                       b
   E'en as we doubt, in our hearts once more,              b
With a rush of tears to our eyelids welling,                  a
Love comes back to his vacant dwelling,                     A
   The old, old Love that we knew of yore!                    B

An additional rondel example by Geoffrey Chaucer:

Rondel of Merciless Beauty

Your two great eyes will slay me suddenly;                           A
Their beauty shakes me who was once serene;                     B
Straight through my heart the wound is quick and keen.         B

Only your word will heal the injury                                         a
To my hurt heart, while yet the wound is clean—                    b
Your two great eyes will slay me suddenly;                            A
Their beauty shakes me who was once serene.                      B

Upon my word, I tell you faithfully                                          a
Through life and after death you are my queen;                       b
For with my death the whole truth shall be seen.                     b
Your two great eyes will slay me suddenly;                            A
Their beauty shakes me who was once serene;                      B
Straight through my heart the wound is quick and keen.          B

Rondel Poems in Sketchbook:

Sandra Martyres, IN—The Game of Cricket: Vol. 6, No. 1, Jan/Feb, 2011.

 

Resources

"Rondel" in Preminger, Alex and T.V.F. Brogan, editors.  The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics.  New York: MJF Books Princeton University Press, 1993, p. 1098.

"Rondel" in Bob's Byway Glossary of Poetic Terms

"Rondel" in Wikipedia.

"Rondel of Merciless Beauty". Geoffrey Chaucer from Poem Hunter.

"Rondelpoem" in Wikipedia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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