French Rondel

History

The French Rondel is a mideaval French verse form related to the triolet and rondeau, invented in the 14th century and popularized by Charles d’Orleans. Sort of.

Like the terms roundel and rondeau, the term rondel in the Middle Ages did not apply to one fixed form but to a “round” song with a refrain or rhyming pattern of any kind. Eustace Deschampes gave 5 seperate schemes for the rondel in his L’Art de dictier (1392), one of which would be renamed the triolet. Poems by 15th c. poets Christine de Pisan, Jean Froissant and Charles D’Orleans designated as rondels are all schematically different.  In the 19th c. Theodore de Banville’s popular book Petite traite de poesie franciase took a D’Orleans rondel as a model for and example of a rondel and the rest is history. Initially he misunderstood the D’Orleans poem and deemed the form 14 lines, but later corrected himself to 13 lines, thus the modern misunderstanding of quanity of lines and 2 iterations of the form.

Structure

  • traditionally the form…
    • may start with masculine or feminine rhyme but its other rhyme must be the other kind
    • the reintroduction of the refrain must feel natural and “inevitable”
  • in modern form it is
    • 13 lines, sometimes 14
    • using only two rhymes
    • three stanzas
    • employs a 2 line refrain which opens the poem and recurs at lines 7 and 8 and completes the poem
    • ABba/abAB/abbaA(B)
    • no fixed meter
    • 8-10 syllables per line

Sources

  • Baldick, Chris. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Cambridge University Press. The Encyclopædia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information, Volume 23. [Cambridge] University Press, 1911.
  • Roland Green, Stephen Cushman. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton University Press, 2012.