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Rhyme Royal Stanza, Chaucerian Stanza, Trolius Stanza

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
English Verse 

The Rhyme Royal Stanza or Rime Royal was originally written for ceremonies celebrating the entry of royals into the city and was also used in mock ceremonial festivals put on by guilds. The form has roots in 13th century France as a deviation of the Ottava Rima or the Chant Royal. It was later used in England by Chaucer in his Trolius and Criseyde and is sometimes called the Chaucerian Stanza or Trolius Stanza. But, because King James chose this form for some of his writings, royalty won out and the more popular name became Rhyme Royal.

The elements of the Rhyme Royal are:

  1. lyrical verse that is flexible and can be written as a narrative. It can also be written as a commentary or literary burlesque.
  2. often written in iambic pentameter but was originally simply decasyllabic.
  3. stanzaic, written in any number of septets (7 line stanza) composed of a Sicilian tercet,  followed by a quatrain of 2 heroic couplets, the first of which interlocks with the tercet.
  4. rhymed, ababbcc.

    They Flee From Me by -- Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) One of Wyatt's most well known poems. Written in decasyllabic verse, much has been written about it because of the placement of the metaphor "that lies like a thin film merging the first 2 stanzas".
             The Lover Showeth How He Is Forsaken                                           
             They flee from me that sometime did me seek,
             With naked foot stalking in my chamber.
             I have seen them gentle tame and meek
             That now are wild and do not remember
             That sometime they put themselves in danger
             To take bread at my hand; and now they range
             Busily seeking with a continual change.

            Thanked be fortune, it hath been otherwise
            Twenty times better; but once in special,
             In thin array after a pleasant guise,
             When her loose gown did from her shoulders did fall,
             And she me caught in her arms long and small;
             And Therewithall sweetly did me kiss,
             And softly said, "Dear heart, how like you this?"

t was no dream, I lay broad waking.
            But all is turned thorough my gentleness
            Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
            And I have leave to go of her goodness
            And she also to use new fangleness.
            But since that I so kindly am served,
            I fain would know what she hath deserved.

Bird's Eye View by Judi Van Gorder

The queen upon her high Madrone-limb throne
was taking count of those who serve her court
when, through the glass she spied her kind. Alone,
oh how she longed to join in their cavort.
Although her royal duty can be sport
when feline subject dares to lurk too near.
Then beak and talon strike enforcing fear.










The Rime Royal Sonnet is simply limiting the stanza count to two lyrical septets.

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