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English Verse

English Madrigal is a short lyrical verse with a love theme. The tone is almost always complimentary. There have been several structures associated with the Madrigalthrough its history from Italy where it began, to France, Spain and England, but most sources agree that no specific frame has been dominant. Although most are short poems there are also long madrigals that have nothing to do with love.

According to the NPEOPP the only Madrigals in England before 1588 were simply translations of Italian Madrigals and the earliest true English Madrigal was by Philip Sidney, a 15 line poem with mixed 6 and 10 syllable rhymed lines. There have been many other forms used by English poets since then.

One of the most important collections of English Madrigals without music was written by William Drummond, a Scot poet who wrote 80 Madrigals in his Poems of 1616. The frame used is loose but does show some consistencies. There is also a stricter verse form recorded in Lewis Turco's Book of Forms and on-line at Poetry Base that attributes the English Madrigal to 14th century English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer. I include both below.

  • The English Madrigal as written by Drummond , the elements are:
    1. a poem in 6 to 14 lines.
    2. syllabic, written with mixed 6-10 syllable lines. The 1st line is always 6 syllables.
    3. rhymed, rhyme schemes are variable, one scheme is abcabddccee.
    4. a complimentary love poem.

      Her Passing from Poems of 1616 by William Drummond (1585-1649) an English Madrigal
      THE beauty and the life
      --- Of life's and beauty's fairest paragon
      O tears! O grief! hung at a feeble thread
      To which pale Atropos had set her knife;
      --- The soul with many a groan
      --- Had left each outward part,
      And now did take his last leave of the heart:
      Naught else did want, save death, ev'n to be dead;
      When the afflicted band about her bed,
      Seeing so fair him come in lips, cheeks, eyes,
      Cried, 'Ah! and can Death enter Paradise?'
  • The English Madrigal as inspired by Chaucer (sometimes called a Short English Madrigal), the elements are:
    1. a poem in 13 lines, a tercet, quatrain, and sixain in that order.
    2. metered, iambic pentameter.
    3. rhymed with refrain, rhyme scheme AB1B2 abAB1 abbAB1B2 Caps are repeated lines.

      A Unicorn for Allexa by Rex Allen Brewer

      Please Allexa, do dream of Unicorns.
      Like fantasy magic they come at night,
      love and innocence painted in star light.

      Seldom seen on clear days or sunlit morns,
      but night or day, they know what's wrong or right.
      It's a good thing to dream of Unicorns.
      Like fantasy magic they come at night.

      In life you shall find both roses and thorns,
      even the good at times are forced to fight.
      Stand tall Allexa don't give in to fright,
      and remember, do dream of Unicorns.
      Like fantasy magic they come at night,
      love and innocence painted in star light.

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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