Poetic Forms: Rondeau

Learn how to write the rondeau, a French poetic form that has 15 lines, three stanzas, and a couple refrains. Paul Laurence Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask" is a popular example of the rondeau.
Publish date:

Since I love French forms, it came as a surprise to me that I haven't covered the rondeau on this blog, yet. As with other French forms, there is an element of rhyming and repetition in the rondeau. In fact, the rondeau is related to the triolet—one of my favorites.

The rondeau is comprised of 15 lines across three stanzas with the first word or phrase from the first line represented as a refrain (R) and a rhyme scheme of two rhymes throughout (A and B). The rhyme and refrain scheme looks like this:

A (R)



The A and B lines are usually eight or 10 syllables in length. The refrain is usually one to three words (or so).


The Complete Guide of Poetic Forms

Play with poetic forms!

Poetic forms are fun poetic games, and this digital guide collects more than 100 poetic forms, including more established poetic forms (like sestinas and sonnets) and newer invented forms (like golden shovels and fibs).

Click to continue.


Here's my attempt at a rondeau:

The mother thinks, by Robert Lee Brewer

The mother thinks she is killing her son
with his shampoo—his hair coming undone
in her hands over time. He feels no pain
says the son. But she knows he'll feel again
the loss of his dad always on the run.

The mother remembers the morning sun
slanting on a messy bed of just one.
No note or cash—she remembers the pain.
The mother thinks

there is something she could have done. Her son
was not wanted by his dad. "No more fun,"
he said after learning. Heartbreaking pain
when instead of joy, he often complained
of her weight gain. Then, of course, he was gone,
the mother thinks.


A fellow native of Dayton, Ohio, Paul Laurence Dunbar, wrote one of the most popular rondeaus in the English language: "We Wear the Mask."

Poetic Forms

Rannaigecht Mor Gairit: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the rannaigecht mor gairit, a variant form of the rannaigecht.


The Writer, The Inner Critic, & The Slacker

Author and writing professor Alexander Weinstein explains the three parts of a writer's psyche, how they can work against the writer, and how to utilize them for success.


Todd Stottlemyre: On Mixing and Bending Genres

Author Todd Stottlemyre explains how he combined fiction and nonfiction in his latest book and what it meant as a writer to share his personal experiences.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Take a Trip

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character take a trip somewhere.


Making the Switch from Romance to Women’s Fiction

In this article, author Jennifer Probst explains the differences between romance and women's fiction, the importance of both, and how you can make the genre switch.


Stephanie Wrobel: On Writing an Unusual Hero

Author Stephanie Wrobel explains how she came to write about mental illness and how it affects familial relationships, as well as getting inside the head of an unusual character.


Who Are the Inaugural Poets for United States Presidents?

Here is a list of the inaugural poets for United States Presidential Inauguration Days from Robert Frost to Amanda Gorman. This post also touches on who an inaugural poet is and which presidents have had them at their inaugurations.


Precedent vs. President (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use precedent vs. president with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 554

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a future poem.