Catena Rondo: Poetic Forms

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After trying out some new forms recently, I've decided to start having Poetic Form Fridays (kind of like how I've reserved Wednesdays for poetry prompts). So this week, let's take on the catena rondo!

Catena Rondo Poems

I found the catena rondo in Robin Skelton's The Shapes of Our Singing. In fact, Skelton created the form, and it's a lot of fun. He took the name from catena, which means chain, and connected it with rondo, which means circle. And the poem is a bit of a "chain circle," because of its intense repetition within stanzas and the poem as a whole

Here's how to write a catena rondo:

  • The poem is comprised of a variable number of quatrains
  • Each quatrain has a rhyme pattern of AbbA
  • The first line of each quatrain is also the final line of the quatrain
  • The second line of each quatrain is the first line of the next quatrain
  • The final quatrain should repeat the first quatrain word for word

There are no rules for meter, syllables, or subject matter. Just a lot of rhyming refrains.


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Here’s my attempt at a Catena Rondo:

Beware the Moon, by Robert Lee Brewer

-outside the Slaughtered Lamb

We all take flight in full moon's light
like werewolves in search of victims
or vampires with hearts like pilgrims.
We all take flight in full moon's light!

Like werewolves in search of victims,
we howl throughout the countryside
and run to where the people hide.
Like werewolves in search of victims,

we howl throughout the countryside.
Imprisoned by our restless mood
and starving for both love and food,
we howl throughout the countryside!

Imprisoned by our restless mood,
we all take flight in full moon's light
like souls that long to do what's right.
Imprisoned by our restless mood,

we all take flight in full moon's light
like werewolves in search of victims
or vampires with hearts like pilgrims;
we all take flight in full moon's light!


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He is a fan of werewolves, vampires, and other spooky creatures. Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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