Poetry Guide: Rondeau
A Rondeau is a form of French poetry with 13 lines written on two rhymes, as well as a corresponding musical form developed to set this characteristic verse structure. It was one of the three formes fixes (the other two were the ballade and the virelai), and one of the verse forms in France most commonly set to music between the late 13th and the 15th centuries.
The rondeau is a form of verse also used in English language poetry. It makes use of refrains, repeated according to a certain stylized pattern. It was customarily regarded as a challenge to arrange for these refrains to contribute to the meaning of the poem in as succinct and poignant a manner as possible. The rondeau consists of thirteen lines of eight syllables, plus two refrains (which are half lines, each of four syllables), employing, altogether, only three rhymes. It has three stanzas (or verses) and its rhyme scheme is as follows: (1) A A B B A (2) A A B with refrain: C (3) A A B B A with concluding refrain: C.
Three early-21st-century rondeaus in English by Suzanne Honour
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