Barzelletta

The Barzelletta: Like many 15th century forms the Barzelletta has differing definitions of theme and frame. A predominant thesis is that the Barzelletta is a nonsense poem developed from the Frottola, a 14th century epigram (joke or funny story or “carnival song”). Other definitions take the genre more seriously suggesting Barzellettas were love songs. (Which to some might also suggest a nonsense poem.) One thing sources all agree on is the Barzelletta was originally written for musical settings. Often composed as a joke with moral instruction there is also evidence of serious love poems linked to the Barzelletta.

Apparently there are also two frames attributed to the Barzaletta. Sites on the internet describe the Barzelletta with a two part structure. However, two very reputable sources the NPEOPP and Turco’s Book of Forms give examples of an unrhymed couplet structure .
• The “couplet” Barzelletta is:
○ lyrical.
○ stanzaic, written in any number of couplets.
○ metered, often iambic, line length optional although originally octasyllablic.
○ often written employing internal rhyme, end words are usually unrhymed.
○ written with wit and a didactic (instructional) and/or aphoric (concise statement of scientific principal) tone.
○ often follows other stanzaic forms.
Barzelletta by Jan Haag
Look what the cat dragged in by Barbara Hartman
Some say a stitch in time saves nine,
unless you drink wine past its prime.

What’s done is done, the die is cast,
we’ll have a blast with everyone.

Time flies when you are having fun,
we’ve just begun to exercise.

I bit off more than I could chew,
it’s up to you to mop the floor.

All these clichés hold grains of truth
and in my youth were often told.
• The “2 part” Barzelletta is:
○ stanzaic, written 2 to 5 sixains or octaves made up of couplets.
○ metered, often irregular. The line length is optional although originally octasyllabic.
○ written with a ripreso or refrain of 4 lines rhymed abba or abab, which opens the poem and is repeated (often using only 2 of the 4 lines) preceding each stanza.
○ usually written employing internal rhyme, end words are sometimes unrhymed although I have found 2 sources that indicate rhyme scheme cdcdda for a 6 line stanza or cdcddeea for an 8 line stanza. Rhyme does not change from stanza to stanza.
○ written with wit and a didactic (instructional) and/or aphoric (concise statement of scientific principal) tone.
○ composed with a volta at the end of each stanza. (the last line of each stanza links to the refrain).

Sideshow by Judi Van Gorder
Pure nonsense I’ve written in rhyme
a Barzalletta, carnival song.
Roll of a drum excites the throng
while daredevil diver starts his climb.

Side show hawkers call out with ease
to draw the gawkers forth to see 
a freak show guaranteed to please
“See two headed frog from Tennessee!”
Naked ladies, young boys agree 
who giggle and wiggle in fear
too scared of their moms to draw near,
when dancing in veils are sublime.

Roll of a drum excites the throng
while daredevil diver starts his climb.

Fill your tummy, hot dogs with squeeze
of mustard, cotton candy spree,
ice cream, slurpies and chili cheese
fries all puke up in harmony.
Indulge in summer fantasy
soak up the playful atmosphere
just feast and cheer, let’s chug a beer.
Pay your dime and have a good time.

Pure nonsense I’ve written in rhyme
a Barzalletta, carnival song.

Pasted from http://www.poetrymagnumopus.com/index.php?showtopic=1154
My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on this fine PMO resource.

My example

Medieval Memories

Medieval Memories (Barzaletta)

King Ludwig II decided to
enhance Bavaria’s country-side.
A wondrous castle he’d provide
replacing not just one, but two.

The castle’s known as Neuschawnstein
was spawned by royal fantasy
which shows in it’s playful design
that captures themes of chivalry.
‘Twas built by a King who could not be
and left behind for me and you.

A wondrous castle he’d provide
replacing not just one, but two.

The King’s own monies were consigned
thus to the people it was free.
Though still, Ludwig was much maligned
by ministers who’d disagree.
They called him “mad”; a travesty!
Of Kings like him we’ve had too few.

King Ludwig II decided to
enhance Bavaria’s country-side.

© Lawrencealot – November 16, 2014

 

 

Photo credit: Painting by Kincade

Visual template

Barzelletta

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