History:

This one took some digging. The Argonelle is an invented was created many years ago by Sylvia Argow of the New York Poetry Forum in the 1970s.

Structure:

This was a hard poem to track down. The usual websites, who all cite each other and don’t give any other sources and admit to not really finding the source of this poem anywhere, say this:

  • unlimited amount of 5-line stanzas (quintains)
  • syllable count is 2-6-8-8-6, with line 2 & 5 having the same syllable count and limes 3 & 4 composed of the same syllable count
  • rhyme scheme is abccb
  • meter and theme is poet’s discretion

However, further digging provided a source out of, of all places, South Africa, but with no citations, says this:

  • two quintains
  • syllable count is 2-6-8-8-6 each stanza
  • rhyme scheme is xAbbA xCddC with ‘x’ being unrhymed and capital letters being refrains
  • can be written in Jambian meter but does not need to be written in Jambian foot
  • in the first stanza, first word in first line is “why” and the second word a thought or emotion with a question mark
  • the two stanzas are opposites of each other in their topic. For example, one stanza explores “Why live” and the other “Why die” (I know, cheesy example, but you get the idea).

I’ve found examples, (though not with explanations) of Argonelles that follow this exact scheme elsewhere, which leads me to believe that this is the more exact form that Sylvia created. As we find more information, we’ll plug it in here. If you have more information, please let us know.

Sources:

http://www.woes.co.za/bydrae/druk/artikel/die-argonelle-en-die-quotella-stof-en-tegniek-43

https://allpoetry.com/poem/6933638-Answers—…—-An-Argonelle-by-Mlou (where I first saw reference to Sylvia Argow