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Tinker

Rondeau. Family of Forms includingTriolet/Villanelle

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry

French Poetry

 

The Rondeau is a 13th century generic term for all French fixed forms derived from dance rounds with musical accompaniment. The verse was originally sung by a leader and the chorus or refrain sung by a chorus and or the dancers. The defining feature of the Rondeau Family of Forms is the rentrement. (in French spelled rentrament) Members of the Rondeau family of forms are the Rondeau, the Rondeau Prime, Rondel, the Rondelet, the Triolet, and the Villanelle.

 

The rentrament is the opening phrase or opening line repeated as a refrain. Theodore de Banville, 19th century French poet said of the rentrement, it is "both more and less than a line, for it plays the major role in the Rondeau's overall design. It is at once the subject and its means of expression."

 

English poets integrate the rentrament more fully than the French who most often employ wit, treating the form as light verse. Conversely, the English attempt to make the rentrement more reflective with the metrical continuity of the other lines of the stanza. It is usually meditative, a lyrical destination, a memory.

  • The Rondeau was narrowed to the poetic verse form we know today by the 17th century.

     

    The Rondeau is:

    • syllabic, L9 & L15 are 4 syllables each and all other lines are 8 syllables each. In English it is usually metered, most often iambic tetrameter except the refrain which is iambic dimeter.
    • a 15 line poem made up of a quintain, followed by a quatrain and ending in a sixain.
    • composed with rentrement, a refrain repeated from the opening phrase of the poem.
    • rhymed, using only 2 rhymes except for the refrain being unrhymed, rhyme scheme aabba, aabR, aabbaR (R being the refrain)
    • a vehicle for serious verse, unlike the Triolet or Rondel which originate from the same source but tend to be lighter verse.
    All Men Are Free by Elliott Napier (Australian poet, 1870-1940)

     

    All men are free and equal born

    Before the Law!" So runs the worn

    And specious, lying, parrot-cry.

    All men are free—to starve or sigh;

    But few to feed on Egypt's corn.

     

    There toils the sweated slave, forlorn;

    There weeps the babe with hunger torn;

    Dear God, forgive us for the lie—

    "All men are free!"

     

    That man may laugh while this must mourn;

    One's heir to honour, one to scorn—

    Were they born free? Were you? Was I?

    No! Not when born, but when they die

    And of their robes—or rags—are shorn,

    All men are free!

    St. Pat, a Rondeau by Judi Van Gorder 5-29-02

     

    A gift of spring one early morn,

    a leggy little filly born.

    Adobe with a blaze of white,

    mane and tail of blackest night

    and on three legs white socks were worn.

     

    At sixteen hands she stood highborn,

    with quickstep gait to strut, forewarn,

    her carriage, speed, a true delight,

    a gift of spring.

     

    We rode as one, my heart was sworn;

    with me her faults and fears were shorn,

    together we were quite a sight,

    in pride and sorrow, I now write.

    Her early death, I'll ever mourn...

    my gift from spring.

    Palette by Judi Van Gorder

     

    The dark remains essential blight

    on canvas without depth of sight

    an empty plain to blind the eye

    with no line defined to vilify,

    a void to spend and fleece the light.

     

    For color's hues intrigue, ignite,

    expose the gravity of night

    and lure the mind to clarify.

    The dark remains.

     

    A war turns bloody-red in right

    or wrong. Black storms bring rain to fight

    the drought and when from pain we cry

    our joys come sweeter, multiply.

    The grit is here for me to write.

    The dark remains.

  • Double Rondeau is simply doubling the pattern of the Rondeau. It can either be doubled in sequence (1 Rondeau following another Rondeau) or the like stanzas could be doubled and paired.

    The Double Rondeau is:

    • A 30 line poem made up of a quintain, quartain, sixain, the same order repeated a second time or a 30 line poem made up of 2 quitains followed by 2 quatrains and ending with 2 sixains.
    • metric, iambic tetrameter accept for the refrain which is iambic dimeter.
    • All stanzas end with a rentrement.
    • rhymed using either 2 or 4 rhymes. aabba aabR aabbaR aabba aabR aabbaR or aabba aabba aabR aabR aabbaR aabbaR or aabba ccddR aabR ccdR aabbaR ccddcR or aabba aabbR aabbaR ccddR ccdR ccddcR.
    • Whether the poem is turned on 2 or 4 rhymes, the rentrement would remain the half line from the first line of the poem to be consistent throughout the poem especially when it is sequential (1 Rondeau pattern following another Rondeau pattern.) There could be 2 rentraments which alternate from the 1st line of each of the 1st and 2nd quintains when the like stanzas are paired.
  • The Rondeau Prime is a short variation of the Rondeau originating in 13th century France. It allows more rhyme than the Rondeau, but incorporates its defining feature of the integration of the rentrement. (opening phrase of the first line which is repeated as a refrain.)

    The Rondeau Prime is:

    • in French syllabic, in English tends to be iambic meter, line length is optional as long as the lines are relatively equal, with the exception of the shorter rentrement.
    • 12 lines, made up of a septet (7 lines) followed by a cinquain (5 lines).
    • rhymed, rhyme scheme abbccbR abbaR, R being the rentrement.

       

      Wind on the Terrace by Judi Van Gorder7-12-05

       

      A leaf in the wind taps the pane,

      reminding me that you have gone.

      Although my busy days move on,

      it is small moments that I miss,

      a gesture, glance, a touch, a kiss.

      You went away before the dawn,

      a leaf in the wind.

       

      I watch the clouds bring in the rain,

      the tears that fall and splash upon

      the terrace of a time withdrawn,

      the sound repeating your refrain,

      a leaf in the wind.

  • Rondeau Redoubled is not simply doubling the Rondeau. Instead of a rentrament at the end of each stanza, the rentrament appears only at the end of the poem and the 1st 4 lines of the poem become refrains sequentially placed at the end of each stanza. This apparently invented form was found in Pathways for the Poet by Viola Berg who gives Untermeyer, Pursuit pp 271-272 as a reference which I have been unable to access so far.

    The Rondeau Redoubled is:

    • a poem in 25 lines, made up of 6 quatrains, the last quatrain has a tail. The rentrement, 1st phrase of the 1st line of the poem is repeated as the tail, the 25th or last line of the poem.
    • metric, iambic pentameter.
    • rhymed, rhyme scheme A1B1A2B2 babA1 abaB1 babA2 abaB2 babaR R being the rentrement.
    • The 1st 4 lines of the poem become sequentially a refrain that is repeated as the last line of sequential quatrains.
    • The rentrement or 1st phrase of the poem is repeated as the last line (25th) of the poem.
  • The Rondel, Old French meaning small circle, is a 14th century verse form. It is a member of the Rondeau family of forms but differs from the Rondeau in the number of lines and the pattern of rhyme. The Rondel came to England in the 16th century. Sources indicate the Rondel is better suited to French than English yet Dobson's Wanderer is a fluid lyrical example of why the Rondel is adaptable to English. A variation of the Rondel is the Rondel Prime or French Sonnet.

    The Rondel is:

    • a 13 line poem, made up of 2 quatrains followed by a quintain.
    • isosyllabic, often written in 8 syllable lines, but the lines can be any number of syllables as long the measure is consistent throughout the poem.
    • rhymed ABba abAB abbaA, A and B being refrains. In French one rhyme is feminine and one is masculine, it doesn't matter whether the feminine rhyme is the a or the b rhyme.
    • composed with 2 rentrements. L1 is repeated in L7 and L13, L2 is repeated in L8.

      THE WANDERER by Henry Austin Dobson

       

      Love comes back to his vacant dwelling, -

      The old, old Love that we knew of yore!

      We see him stand by the open door,

      With his great eyes sad, and his bosom swelling.

       

      He makes as though in our arms repelling,

      He fain would lie as he lay before; -

      Love comes back to his vacant dwelling, -

      The old, old Love that we knew of yore!

       

      Ah, who shall keep us from over-spelling

      That sweet forgotten, forbidden lore!

      E'en as we doubt in our hearts once more,

      With a rush of tears to our eyelids welling.

  • The Short Rondel might better be described as a short Rondeau than Rondel because this form uses the rentrement or first phrase of L1 as a refrain rather than the full line as in the Rondel.

     

    The Short Rondel is:

    • a poem in 11 lines made up of sixain followd by a quintain.
    • isosyllabic, often 8 syllalbe lines, except for L6 & L11 which are the shorter first phrase of L1.
    • rhymed, rhyme scheme aabbcC ddeeC.

      r r r C x x x a

      x x x x x x x a

      x x x x x x x b

      x x x x x x x b

      r r r C

      x x x x x x x d

      x x x x x x x d

      x x x x x x x e

      x x x x x x x e

      r r r C

  • The Rondelet is a relatively short poem using the entire opening line as its refrain. It is French in origin, another member of the 13th century Rondeau Family of Forms which is defined by its use of the rentrement.

    The Rondelet is:

    • a heptastich, a poem in 7 lines.
    • in French syllabic. Syllable count per line are 4-8-4-8-8-8-4 In English tends to be iambic in pattern.
    • composed with a rentrement, in the Rondelet the entire L1 is repeated as refrain in L3 and L7.
    • rhymed. Rhyme scheme interlocks between the refrain AbAabbA.
      August's end by Barbara Hartman 8-19-05

       

      So much to do

      before green hummingbirds depart

      so much to do

      before our final rendezvous

      when frost adorns gray spider's art

      and winter winds tear vines apart

      so much to do . . .

      Lonelinessby Robert Murtaugh,(Fader @ Poetry Connection) 8-14-05

       

      In loneliness

      I sit and wait for someone new

      In loneliness

      My heart is filled with such duress

      But as I sit here feeling blue

      I wait to meet someone like you

      In loneliness.

  • The Rondine is a little seen shortened version of the Rondeau dating back to at least the 16th century.

    The Rondine is:

    • a poem in 12 lines made up of a quatrain, a tercet and ending in a quintet.
    • syllabic 8 syllables per line accept L7 and L12 which are 4 syllbles each. In English metered, most often iambic tetrameter except the refrain which is iambic dimeter.
    • composed with a refrain repeated from the opening phrase of the poem, rentrement.
    • rhymed, using only 2 rhymes except for the refrain being unrhymed, rhyme scheme abba,aabR, abbaR (R being the refrain)
  • The Triolet, the name didn't appear until 1486, but the form can be traced back 13th century France. It is a member of the Rondeau family as distinguished by the rentrement.The Triolet fell in and out of favor with French poets until the 19th century when it became part of the promotion of Romance Fixed Forms by Theodore de Banville. He promoted the form as playful or satirical.

     

    One challenge of the form is in managing the intricate repetition of lines so that it seems natural. The repeated line may vary in meaning to shift the emphasis of the poem.

     

    "The fifth and sixth lines both support the refrain and resist it. The support coming from re-establishing some formal stability after the irregularities of the third and fourth lines; and resist it by allowing a temporary release from its apparent stranglehold, usually accompanied by an expansion of the subject matter." The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics

     

    The Triolet is:

    • an octave, 8 lines.
    • in English, most often written with variable line length and meter at the discretion of the poet. Originally in French, the lines were octasyllabic which would create an 8 by 8 effect.
    • composed with a rentrement, L1 is repeated as L4 and L7. There is also repetition of L2 in L8.
    • rhymed, with only 2 rhymes with the rhyme scheme ABaAabAB.
    • most often playful or satirical, appropriate for light verse or occasional verse.

      Triolet by Ernest Henley; British Poet (1849-1903)

      Easy is the triolet,

      If you really learn to make it!

      Once a neat refrain you get,

      Easy is the triolet.

      As you see! I pay my debt

      With another rhyme. Deuce take it,

      Easy is the triolet,

      If you really learn to make it!

      Cat Tale by Judi Van Gorder

      The kitty flips her fluffy tail

      displaying inborn-regal grace,

      her half closed eyes create a veil.

      The princess flips her fluffy tail,

      aloof and pampered tips the scale.

      With feigned disinterest on her face,

      the kitty flips her fluffy tail,

      she moves with orchestrated grace.

  • Villanelle (a rustic, peasant song or dance) is an intricate French verse that is distinguished by its pastoral subject matter and alternating refrain. A member of the Rondeau family, it expands on the Rondeau's signature, "rentrement", a repetition of the 1st line or phrase as a refrain, by also including the 3rd line as an alternating refrain. The Villanelle originated in the 15th century becoming standardized by the 17th century.

    The French use the form as a stanzaic form allowing as many tercets as one chooses. The English version is a fixed form limiting the number of lines to 19.

     

    Because of the repetition of 2 lines, the form does not allow the poet to tell a story. There can be no narrative and no way to create lineal progression, the poem goes round and round. The form is described by French poet, T. de Danville as "a plait of gold and silver threads into which is woven a third, rose-colored thread."

     

    The Villanelle is:

    • metered, primarily iambic pentameter.
    • in French stanzaic, written in any number of tercets and finally ending in a quatrain.
    • in English, written in a total of 19 lines, made up of 5 tercets and ending with a quatrain.
    • L1 and L3 of the first stanza, alternate as the refrain in the following tercets.
    • composed with L1 and L3 of the first tercet repeated as the last two lines of the poem.
    • written with only 2 end rhymes with a rhyme scheme of A¹bA², abA¹, abA², abA¹, abA², abA¹A².
    • originally composed with a pastoral theme.

      Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas 1952

       

      Do not go gentle into that good night

      Old age should burn and rave at close of day

      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

       

      Though wise men at their end know dark I s right,

      Because their words had forked no lightning they

      Do not go gentle into that good night

       

      Good men the last wave by crying how bright

      There frail deeds might have danced in a green bay;

      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

       

      Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

      And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way

      Do not go gentle into that good night.

       

      Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

      Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

       

      And you, my father, there on the sad height,

      Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray,

      Do not go gentle into that good night.

      Rage,rage against the dying of the light.

      Villanelle for Scottie by Judi Van Gorder

       

      And now my son, you have become a man,

      you're more than I had hoped that you would be

      and I will always be your biggest fan.

       

      You went away to school and said, I can!

      I cherish well the boy that I still see,

      my child, you grew into a searching man.

       

      With badge and gun your life's career began,

      you've served with valor and integrity,

      I burst with pride, I am your biggest fan.

       

      You fell in love and wed, I say, that's grand!

      She more than makes you smile it's plain to me,

      she is your perfect fit, you'll be her man.

       

      With joy, a family was in the plan,

      three girls and now a boy have come to be,

      you made me Grandma , I am a grateful fan.

       

      My daring son, I thrill at your success,

      I know you couldn't be more loved or blessed

      and now my boy, you have become a man,

      with love and pride. I am your biggest fan.

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