Roundel: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the roundel, an English 11-line variant of the roundeau.
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Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the roundel, an English 11-line variant of the roundeau.

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Roundel Poems

The roundel (not to be confused with the rondel) is an English variation of the roundeau that was introduced by Algernon Charles Swinburne. Here are basic guidelines:

  • 11 lines
  • three stanzas (quatrain, tercet, quatrain)
  • the opening of the first line becomes a refrain of the fourth and 11th lines and rhymes with lines two, five, seven, and nine
  • rhyme pattern: abaB bab abaB
  • while there's no set syllable count per line, the lines within the poem are consistent, except for the refrain lines, which are more concise

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Here’s my attempt at a roundel:

Spirits, by Robert Lee Brewer

Again, I roam the old graveyard
as if it were a second home
or I its solitary guard.
Again, I roam

alone and compose this sad tome
as if a cemetery bard
could collect ghosts beneath a dome

and release them, broken and scarred,
like hair that passes through a comb
for this world to take or discard.
Again, I roam.

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