Roundelay

There is some confusion online as to the meaning of the term “roundelay,” with some references confusing it with the French “rondelet” and others describing it as any poem with a refrain. Actually, the roundelay, rondelet, rondeau, rondel, and other similar sounding poems all spring from a common French origin, but are all very different in contemporary use. The roundelay’s many repeating couplets and limited rhymes can make it a difficult form to write, but as with many successful poems with refrains, can also make for profound or esoteric poetry.

The roundelay consists of four sestets (six-line stanzas) made up of twelve repeating couplets (two-line stanzas, one of which repeats as each stanza’s last two lines. The stanzas’ couplets A,B,C,D ,E and R (the continuing refrain) combine in the following pattern:
A B R … B C R … C D R … D E R
So, in the second stanza, “B C R” represents six-lines (three couplets), with couplet “B” repeating from the first stanza, couplet “C” repeating in the following stanza, and its last couplet “R” repeating as every stanza’s last two lines. In addition, each couplet’s first line rhymes with other couplets’ first lines and all second lines rhyme with each other as well, making the rhyme scheme:
a-b-a-b-a-b … a-b-a-b-a-b … a-b-a-b-a-b … a-b-a-b-a-b
Remember that in a rhyming pattern, lines ending in a sound designated by “a” only rhyme with other “a” lines, “b” lines only with other “b” lines, and so on.
Trochaic tetrameter (four feet of “DUM-dah” per line, see “Meter”) is a requirement, but it is permissible for some of the lines to be one syllable short.

Related forms: Dryden’s Roundelay, Rondelet, Roundelay, Termelay

 

Example Poem

Write a Roundelay

Write in Trochees, DUM da sounding.
Search for words with good rhyme rating.
Rhymes once used will be compounding.
Words that fit will be elating.
Couplets through the verse, go bounding.
stuck together as though dating.

Rhymes once used will be compounding.
Words that fit will be elating.
Doubters now you’ll be confounding.
Roundelays you’re now creating.
Couplets through the verse, go bounding.
stuck together as though dating.

Doubters now you’ll be confounding.
Roundelays you’re now creating.
Couplets you composed.. astounding.
Each of them adds their own weighting.
Couplets through the verse, go bounding.
stuck together as though dating.

Couplets you composed.. astounding.
Each of them adds their own weighting.
I’m glad this poem is abating.
This is getting aggravating.
Couplets through the verse go bounding.
stuck together as though dating.

Visual Template

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *