Like other types of formes fixes poetry, the Rondeau was often set to music. Some of the earliest polyphonic rondeaux were written by the French trouvere, Adam de la Halle during the late 13th century.
Fast forward to the 14th and 15th centuries, and many prominent composers such as Guillaume de Marchaut, Guillaume Dufay, and Hayne van Ghizeghem were well-versed in the form. Early rondeaux are usually found as additions in longer narrative poems, and separate monophonic musical settings survive to this day.
Eventually all good things must come to an end and after the 15th century, the musical rondeau went out of vogue and the rondeau became a purely literary form.
Try a Rondeau
Write a rondeau based on your favorite song. Follow the “aabba aabR aabbaR” rhyme scheme. Dancing is optional but always recommended.
To help inspire your poetic flow, here is a recent poem from Andrew we enjoyed:
Pulse of the sea, feel of the foam
On face and hands. Reflected waves
Cast oscillating curves of blue
Into the inner mind. It calls,
And to its call I am as water,
Soft and mouldable. For it is me
As I wish I was. Bright, perfect,
And clear. A blue of passion, a
Bombardier blue, a sightless,
Blinding blue. And I can not resist
Nor do I want to. Within, the waves
Crash softly, whilst without
They capture curves of coast I’ve seen,
Only now caught in depths
That cry of fair aquamarine.
Photo by darkday. Creative Commons via Flickr.
How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland