Some of the earliest French poetry came from the Provencal Troubadours who developed distinct styles and forms of verse which set French versification on the path of a strict and narrow course for over 400 years. Although the sonnet was very probably inspired by the verse of the Troubadours, French poetry sometimes get a bad rap as difficult and lacking spontaneity because of its attention to structural detail. Yet the Lai, the Rondeau, and the Ballade family of forms have found their way through the centuries and are still used today.
The Albatross by Charles Baudelaire French Poet (1821-1867)
. Often, to amuse themselves, the crew of the ship
Would fell an albatross, the largest of sea birds,
Indolent companions of their trip
As they slide across the deep sea's bitters.
Scarcely had they dropped to the plank
Than these blue kings, maladroit and ashamed
Let their great white wings sink
Like an oar dragging under the water's plane.
The winged visitor, so awkward and weak!
So recently beautiful, now comic and ugly!
One sailor grinds a pipe into his beak,
Another, limping, mimics the infirm bird that once could fly.
The poet is like the prince of the clouds
Who haunts the storm and laughs at lightning.
He's exiled to the ground and its hooting crowds;
His giant wings prevent him from walking.
|Alternating Sonnet||Alexandrine line||Alba or Aubade||Ballade||Ballade Grande||Ballade Royal|
|Ballade Supreme Stanza||Balada||Ballata||Bergerette||Blason||Bref Double|
|Breton Lay||Canso||Chain Verse||Chanso or Chanson||Chante Fable||Chant Royal Stanza|
|Chanson de Geste||Cinquain||Courtly Compliment||Dansa||Débat|
|Descort||Desdansa||Double Ballade||Double Ballade Supreme||Double Ballade with Eight Line Stanza||Double Chant Royal|
|Double Refrain Kyrielle||Double Rondeau||Dizain||Eclogue Débat||Ensenhamen||Enuig|
|Fabliau||Fatras||Free Verse||Freie Verse||French Heroic Line||French Sonnet|
|Geste||Grand Ballade||Hutain||Iambe||Kyrielle||Kyrielle Sonnet||Laisse|
|Lai||Lai Nouveau||Noel||Pantoum||Pastorela||Prose Poem|
|Quatern||Retourne||Revielle||Reverdie||Rime Couée||Rhyme Royal|
|Rondeau||Rondeau Prime||Rondeau Redoubled||Rondel||Rondel Prime||Rondelet|
|Rondine||Ronsardian Ode||Sestina||Salut d' Amour||Sirvante||Short Rondel|