Help me Rondeau! Help, help me, Rondeau! Another French poetic form

It’s been a while since I’ve tackled a poetic form, but as you know, I love the French forms. The rondeau is no exception. It has a refrain and rhymes–two elements I love in many French poems. The traditional rondeau is a poem consisting of 3 stanzas, 13 original lines, and 2 refrains (of the first line of the poem) with 8 to 10 syllables per line and an A/B rhyme scheme.

The skeleton of the traditional rondeau looks like this:

A(R)
A
B
B
A

A
A
B
A(R)

A
A
B
B
A
A(R)

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I recently visited Stone Mountain in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s this mountain that is basically a huge granite rock. If you’re interested, here’s some more information on the mountain and park: http://stonemountainpark.com/.

As part of my visit, I hiked to the top of the mountain, which was exposed to very strong and very cold winds. If my boys were with me, I’d’ve been afraid they might blow off the mountain top. But as you’ll see in my rondeau example, I’m masochistic enough to have enjoyed getting a windburnt face and sore muscles.

“Rounding Stone Mountain”

But I suppose that wasn’t so bad,
finding our way to the triad
of Confederate Generals
who fought to maintain protocol
in a war that drove people mad–

when even sons fought their own dads
and the deaths of the myriad
Americans grew mystical.
But I supposed that wasn’t so bad.

We saw the granite picture and
followed the yellow path, our hands
holding our hands against a crawl,
knowing we had no chance to fall,
still we fell and said, with hearts glad,
“But I suppose that wasn’t so bad.”

*****

As you can see, my A rhymes were: bad, triad, mad, dads, myriad, and, hands, glad.

My B rhymes were: Generals, protocol, mystical, crawl, fall.

Yes, there was a little slant in my rhymes, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

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There are variations of the rondeau, including the rondeau redouble, rondel, rondel double, rondelet, roundel, and roundelay. Of course, poets tend to break the rules on each of these as well, which is what poets like to do. Because rules and poets don’t get along sometimes, right?

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Here are a couple other online resources on the rondeau:

* Wikipedia entry

* from Alberto Rios

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Check out other Poetic Forms.

 

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