English Madrigal

English Madrigal
Type: Structure, Metrical Requirement, Repetitive Requirement, Rhyme Scheme Requirement, Isosyllabic
Description: Three verses of iambic pentameter: a triplet, a quatrain, and a sestet with the following rhyme and repetition scheme: AB1B2 abAB1 abbAB1B2.
Attributed to: Geoffrey Chaucer
Origin: English
Schematic: Rhyme and Repetition: AB1B2 abAB1 abbAB1B2

Meter: Iambic pentameter = xX xX xX xX xX

Rhyme alone: abb abab abbabb

Repetition alone: 123 xx12 xxx123
Line/Poem Length: 13

Pasted from <http://www.poetrybase.info/forms/001/108.shtml>
My Thanks to Charles L. Weatherford for his work on the wonderful poetrybase resource.


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 Madrigal through 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 hisPoems 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 is:
○ a poem in 6 to 14 lines.
○ syllabic, written with mixed 6-10 syllable lines. The 1st line is always 6 syllables.
○ rhymed, rhyme schemes are variable, one scheme is abcabddccee.
○ 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) is:
○ a poem in 13 lines, a tercet, quatrain, and sixain in that order.
○ metered, iambic pentameter.
○ 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.

Pasted from <http://www.poetrymagnumopus.com/index.php?/topic/671-english-madrigal/>
My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on this fine PMO resource


My example poem

What I Should Have Told My Daughter (English Madrigal)

Remember Suzy, lovely dreams come true
so dream of love and settle not for less.
Be not so anxious for that first caress.

The kind of man you get depends on you.
A fallen apple does not much impress.
Be patient dear, for lovely dreams come true.
So dream of love and settle not for less.

The pressing, selfish man you must eschew
though urges will be strong, I shall confess.
Your prince will come and you’ll not have to guess.
You need not rush, for lovely dreams come true.
So dream of love and settle not for less.
Be not so anxious for that first caress.

© Lawrencealot – August 9, 2014

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I have chosen to present the stricter Chaucer version, and interpreting from the poem A Unicorn for Allexa by Rex Allen Brewer shall allow the ending half of line 1 to suffice for the refrain requirement.

English Madrigal


The Bridges

• The Bridges is a stanzaic form with a formal tone created by the long and short lines and exact rhyme scheme. It is patterned after Nightingales by English poet Robert Bridges(1844-1930).
• The Bridges is:
○ stanzaic, written in any number of sixains.
○ metered, L1,L2, L4 of each stanza is iambic hexameter, L5 iambic pentameter and L3 and L6 are dimeter.
○ rhymed, rhyme scheme aabccb ddeffe etc.

Nightingales by Robert Bridges

BEAUTIFUL must be the mountains whence ye come,
[And bright in the fruitful valleys the streams, wherefrom
Ye learn your song:
Where are those starry woods? O might I wander there,
Among the flowers, which in that heavenly air
Bloom the year long!

Nay, barren are those mountains and spent the streams:
Our song is the voice of desire, that haunts our dreams,
A throe of the heart,
Whose pining visions dim, forbidden hopes profound,
No dying cadence nor long sigh can sound,
For all our art.

Alone, aloud in the raptured ear of men
We pour our dark nocturnal secret; and then,
As night is withdrawn
From these sweet-springing meads and bursting boughs of May,
Dream, while the innumerable choir of day
Welcome the dawn.

Pasted from http://www.poetrymagnumopus.com/index.php?showtopic=668

My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for the wonderful PMO resoruce site.
Now my friends, do not try to fit the above poem to the template displayed below, unless for your own edification, because the poem does not conform to the specifications. And that is okay, for the text above states that it is PATTERNED AFTER, and that much is true.

What I could not find out is who did the patterning? No matter. We can now write The Bridges to these specifications:
Syllabic: 12/12/4/12/10/4
stanzaic, any number of sestets (6 line stanzas).
Rhyme scheme: aabccb ddeffe etc.
Metric: Iambic hexamter, iambic pentameter, iambic dimeter

My example poem

The Pregnant Bride (The Bridges)

“How are you feeling”? asked my doc , and I replied.
“I’m eighty-five and have a young and pregnant bride!”
I’m feeling great.”
She’s eighteen, beautiful, and gonna have my child.
It’s wonderful. I think that’s very wild!
I’m no light-weight.”

The doctor thought it over then made this retort,
“I knew an avid hunter once, a hearty sport.
who erred one day.
He grabbed an umbrella when reaching for his gun
and aimed it at a bear which had begun
to run his way.”

“He pulled the handle. Do you know what happened next?
The bear dropped dead in front of him!”- I was perplexed.
“That cannot be”,
I said, “Someone else must have shot that doggone bear.”
“Correct”, the doctor said, “I do declare
I see you see.”
© Lawrencealot – June 17, 2014

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The Bridges

The Blunden

The Blunden is named for the English World War I poet, Edmund Blunden (1896- 1933 or 1974??), a stanzaic form with variable meter patterned after his poem The Survival. Blunden unlike most “War Poets”, wrote about the loss of beauty in the war torn landscape of France. The easy rhythm of the form brings a kind of melancholy to the poem. This poem could almost be considered a débat. Two voices are heard, the mind’s need to cope versus the soul’s devastation at the mindless destruction.

The Blunden is:

  • metered, L1, L3, L4, L5 iambic tetrameter and L2, L6 iambic trimeter.
  • stanzaic, any number of sexains or sixains (6 line stanzas).
  • rhymed, rhyme scheme abccab deffde etc.
    The Survival by Edmund Blunden

To-day’s house makes to-morrow’s road;
I knew these heaps of stone
When they were walls of grace and might,
The country’s honour, art’s delight
That over fountain’d silence show’d
Fame’s final bastion.

Inheritance has found fresh work,
Disunion union breeds;
Beauty the strong, its difference lost,
Has matter fit for flood and frost.
Here’s the true blood that will not shirk
Life’s new-commanding needs.

With curious costly zeal, O man,
Raise orrery and ode;
How shines your tower, the only one
Of that especial site and stone!
And even the dream’s confusion can
Sustain to-morrow’s road.

Pasted from http://www.poetrymagnumopus.com/index.php?showtopic=668

My thanks ot Judi Van Gorder for the fine resource site above.

My example:

Wake Up (The Blunden)

A successor of Mohammed
that is a caliph’s claim.
Control and domination rules
(embraced by fanatics and fools)
Why would one grasp a burning thread
with slavery it’s aim?

Five thousand other dogmas give
adherents special hope.
All based on miracles and fraud
each claiming theirs is truly God.
But most will let opponents live.
Will truest Muslims?- Nope.

© Lawrencealot – June 17, 2014

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Syllabic: 8/6/8/8/8/6

The Blunden

The Binyon

The Binyon is an envelope verse form with refrain patterned after the poem O World, Be Nobler by 19th century English poet Laurence Binyon. Binyon is known as a World War I poet. O World, is not his best known work, he is better known for For the Fallen which is often used in military memorial services.
The Binyon is:
• a heptastich, a poem in 7 lines.
• metered, iambic tetrameter.
• rhymed, rhyme scheme AbccbaA.
• composed with a refrain, the 1st line is repeated as the last line.
O World, Be Nobler Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
O WORLD, be nobler, for her sake!
If she but knew thee what thou art,
What wrongs are borne, what deeds are done
In thee, beneath thy daily sun,
Know’st thou not that her tender heart
For pain and very shame would break?
O World, be nobler, for her sake!

Pasted from <http://www.poetrymagnumopus.com/index.php?showtopic=668>
My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for the wonderful PMO resource.

My example poem

Election Comes First (The Binyon)

I want you all to rest assured
I can be trusted with your vote.
The moneyed crowd does not own me,
I’m independent as can be.
I’ve got no mistress, plane, or boat,
I will someday though, mark my word.
I want you all to rest assured.

© Lawrencealot – June 12, 2014

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The Binyon

The Arnold

The Arnold is a stanzaic pattern that links stanzas with rhyme. It is named for English poet Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) and patterned after his poem The Hymn of Empedocles. Arnold was actually better known for writing the classic Dover Beach.

The Arnold is:
• stanzaic, written in any even number of cinquains.
• metered, L1 through L4 are trimeter, L5 is hexameter.
• rhymed. L1 through L4 are alternating rhyme, L5 rhymes with line 5 of the next stanza. The L5 rhyme changes every 2 stanzas. Rhyme scheme: ababc dedec fgfgh ijijh etc.
• L1 through L4 are indented 9 spaces. Now that is getting specific.
The Hymn of Empedocles by Mathew Arnold

IS it so small a thing
To have enjoy’d the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved, to have thought, to have done;
To have advanced true friends, and beat down baffling foes;

That we must feign a bliss
Of doubtful future date,
And while we dream on this
Lose all our present state,
And relegate to worlds yet distant our repose?

Not much, I know, you prize
What pleasures may be had,
Who look on life with eyes
Estranged, like mine, and sad:
And yet the village churl feels the truth more than you;

Who ‘s loth to leave this life
Which to him little yields:
His hard-task’d sunburnt wife,
His often-labour’d fields;
The boors with whom he talk’d, the country spots he knew

But thou, because thou hear’st
Men scoff at Heaven and Fate;
Because the gods thou fear’st
Fail to make blest thy state,
Tremblest, and wilt not dare to trust the joys there are.

I say, Fear not! life still
Leaves human effort scope.
But, since life teems with ill,
Nurse no extravagant hope.
Because thou must not dream, thou need’st not then despair.
Pasted from <http://www.poetrymagnumopus.com/index.php?showtopic=668>

My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for the fine PMO resource.

My Example poem

Jar of Coins (The Arnold)

Jar of Coins

The coins are waiting now
in a five gallon jar.
They were not spent somehow
so that is where they are –
received as change when bread or milk was bought one day.

Those coins would not be missed
for times were not that bad.
coin hoarding would persist.
Someday I might be glad.
For years and years the coins joined others put away.

The economic tide
made metal prices race.
Some coins that rest inside
are worth more than their face.
That jar became a rock against emergency.

That heavy bottle seems
too much for me to lift.
It’s for my grandson’s dreams,
I plan it for a gift.
Bequeathing him some jingle, left unused by me.

© Lawrencealot – June 12, 2014
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The Arnold

The Swinburne

      • The Swinburne is a stanzaic form patterned after Before the Mirror by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909).The Swinburne is:
        • stanzaic, written in any number of septets.
        • metric, L1,L3,L5, & L6 are trimeter, L2 & L4 are dimeter, and L7 is pentameter.
        • rhymed ababccb dedeffe etc, L1 & L3 have feminine or falling rhyme.
This named form was documented by Judi Van Gorder, on her most wonderful resource site: Poetry Manum Opus, in a section about poetry form named after English poets.
Note: In addition to the specifications above, it is also required that the sixth syllable in Line 7 rhyme with lines 5 and 6.

Before the Mirror
WHITE ROSE in red rose-garden
Is not so white;
Snowdrops that plead for pardon
And pine for fright
Because the hard East blows
Over their maiden rows

Grow not as this face grows from pale to bright.

Behind the veil, forbidden,
Shut up from sight,
Love, is there sorrow hidden,
Is there delight?
Is joy thy dower or grief,
White rose of weary leaf,

Late rose whose life is brief, whose loves are light?

Soft snows that hard winds harden
Till each flake bite
Fill all the flowerless garden
Whose flowers took flight
Long since when summer ceased,
And men rose up from feast,

And warm west wind grew east, and warm day night.

“Come snow, come wind or thunder
High up in air,
I watch my face, and wonder
At my bright hair;
Nought else exalts or grieves
The rose at heart, that heaves

With love of her own leaves and lips that pair.

“She knows not loves that kissed her
She knows not where.
Art thou the ghost, my sister,
White sister there,
Am I the ghost, who knows?
My hand, a fallen rose,
Lies snow-white on white snows, and takes no care.
“I cannot see what pleasures
Or what pains were;
What pale new loves and treasures
New years will bear;
What beam will fall, what shower,
What grief or joy for dower;

But one thing knows the flower; the flower is fair.”

Glad, but not flushed with gladness,
Since joys go by;
Sad, but not bent with sadness,
Since sorrows die;
Deep in the gleaming glass
She sees all past things pass,

And all sweet life that was lie down and lie.

There glowing ghosts of flowers
Draw down, draw nigh;
And wings of swift spent hours
Take flight and fly;
She sees by formless gleams,
She hears across cold streams,

Dead mouths of many dreams that sing and sigh.

Face fallen and white throat lifted,
With sleepless eye
She sees old loves that drifted,
She knew not why,
Old loves and faded fears
Float down a stream that hears

The flowing of all men’s tears beneath the sky.

Algernon Charles Swinburne
Example poem
Caretaker      (The Swinburne)
When forced to go and going
with all due haste,
you leave already knowing
there must be waste.
I never, as a boy
expected old man’s joy

at seeing an old toy I had misplaced.

The things you leave behind you
are not all done.
They’re simply tasks assigned to
another one.
When your life takes a turn
the habits you adjourn
may tickle Time who spurns a lack of fun.
© Lawrencealot – May 8, 2014
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Brace Octave

Brace Octave
Structure, Rhyme Scheme Requirement, Stanzaic
An eight-line stanzaic form with rhyme of abbaabba or abbacddc. No requirements on meter or length. The Italian octave is a subgenre of this.
abbaabba or abbacddc
Rhythm/Stanza Length:
See Also:
My thanks to Charles L. Weatherford for his fine Poetrybase resource.
Brace Octave ——————————————
The Brace Octave has its roots in music. The brace is the wavey symbol that joins 2 staffs of music, indicating that both scores are played simultaneously. The verse form referred to as the Brace Octave is a lyrical blend of meter and rhyme, the rhyme scheme almost taking the shape of the brace. It could even be said that the octave itself acts as a brace joining two envelope quatrains.
The Brace Octave is:
  • stanzaic, written in any number of octaves (8 lines) made up of 2 envelope quatrains. When writing more than one octave, even numbered stanzas grouped in twos seems to fit best with the venue of the form.
  • metric, iambic tetrameter. Some sources indicate no meter necessary but given the musical nature of the verse, it seems to me measured lines are appropriate if not a prerequisite. The best known poem utilizing the Brace Octave is Two Songs from a Play by W.B. Yeats which is written in iambic tetrameter so I guess Mr. Yeats agrees with me.
  • rhymed, with an envelope rhyme scheme abbacddc (see it does sort of look like a brace lying down.)
    Here is 
    William Butler Yeats’ poem which was published in his book The Towerin 1928. There is a footnote from Yeats “These songs were sung by musicians in my play Resurrection.”
Two Songs from a Play by William Butler Yeats
I saw a staring virgin stand
Where holy Dionysus died,
And tear the heart out of his side.
And lay the heart upon her hand
And bear that beating heart away;
Of Magnus Annus at the spring,
And then did all the Muses sing
As though God’s death were but a play.
Another Troy must rise and set,
Another lineage feed the crow,
Another Argo’s painted prow
Drive to a flashier bauble yet.
The Roman Empire stood appalled:
It dropped the reins of peace and war
When that fierce virgin and her Star
Out of the fabulous darkness called.
In pity for man’s darkening thought
He walked that room and issued thence
In Galilean turbulence;
The Babylonian starlight brought
A fabulous, formless darkness in;
Odour of blood when Christ was slain
Made all platonic tolerance vain
And vain all Doric discipline.
Everything that man esteems
Endures a moment or a day.
Love’s pleasure drives his love away,
The painter’s brush consumes his dreams;
The herald’s cry, the soldier’s tread
Exhaust his glory and his might:
Whatever flames upon the night
Man’s own resinous heart has fed.
My thanks to Judy Van Gorder from PMO for the above.  I
 tend to agree with her conceptually about the meter and line length, but many do not.  Below is a poem that strays from isosyllabic lines and abandons consistent meter.
~Love Is Not Just  A State Of Mind~
(Brace Octave)
Love is a very beautiful feeling
Can make you sappy or happy
And at times can give you  healing
Sometimes makes us so unhappy
You reach the stars or hit the ceiling
Emotions makes us  sad or happy
Love is not just a state of mind
For in your heart love you can find
Dorian Petersen Potter
aka ladydp2000
My example poem
Short Shrift    (Brace Octave)
I tell ya friend
it’s quite okay
to write this way
or else append
sounds to extend
the word array
with more to say
from start to end.
© Lawrencealot – April 20, 2014
Although I do believe that more pleasant poetry results from utilizing meter and a consistent line length of iambic tetrameter or longer, I have to allow any octave using envelope rhyme to be tagged with this name.
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Chaucerian Roundel

Chaucerian Roundel
The Chaucerian roundel was developed by (obviously) Chaucer from (less obviously) the rondel rather than the roundel – not that there’s a huge amount of difference.  This example is dedicated to the Athenian gentleman who, in an e-mail, described my website as a “labor of love” (yes, it was Athens, Georgia). 


I’d like to do this all the time.
It doesn’t pay, but I confess
I love my day job rather less.
I’m tiring of the search for rhyme
And reason in life’s heaving mess.
I’d like to do this all the time.
A poet’s life must be sublime.
Those lucky few the gods would bless
Breathe only poetry. Oh yes,
I’d like to do this all the time.

As with the rondel etc, there is a refrain, the first line being repeated at the end of the second and third stanzas. The rhyming scheme is Abb; abA; abbA, (AbbabAabbA) where the capital A’s denote the repetition of entire lines. No particular line length or metre is required.
My Thanks to Bob Newman for the wonderful resources at Volecentral.
The Chaucerian Roundel is closer to the French Rondel than the English Roundel. It is named for its originator Geoffrey Chaucer who has been said to write his Knight’s tale in the roundel, the rondel and the rondeau (take your pick). This verse form was found at Vol Central
The Chaucerian Roundel is:
  • a decastich, made up of 2 tercets followed by a quatrain.
  • written in no particular line length or meter although the form is often written in lines of equal length. Iambic tetrameter or pentameter lines are common.
  • rhymed Abb abA abbA , the A is a refrain.
  • composed with a refrain; L1 is repeated as a refrain in L6 and L10.
Pasted from <http://www.poetrymagnumopus.com/index.php?/topic/667-chaucerian-roundel/>(line length optional, meter optional)

My Thanks to Judi Van Gorder for the wonderful resource at PMO.
My Example Poem
Could Be     (Chaucerian Roundel)
Could be our troubles are a state of mind,
could be that they’re imposed and very real,
like acts of God that man cannot appeal.
But social troubles I suspect you’ll find
depend to great extent on how you feel,
could be our troubles are a state of mind.
If one decides to leave ones woes behind
and acts accordingly with honest zeal
he’ll find that other’s slights are no big deal;
could be our troubles are a state of mind.
© Lawrencealot – February 12, 2014
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(note: although line length and meter are not required,
  this is set up for iambic pentameter)