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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shortening the Sails

Hello again! Grace here, glad to be back for the second round of our poetry format challenge. This week, we'll discuss the Rondelet. This is another French form, consisting of just one stanza. This form is a compressed version of the format we will tackle next time. Think of it as a building block!

The forms we have been enjoying are all of the Rondeau family, defined by the rentrement. The rentrement, as we saw in the last post's roundel, is an opening phrase or line that becomes a refrain. A French poet of the 19th century, Theodore de Banville, said of the rentrement, "It is at once the subject and its means of expression."

In "The Literary World", published in 1889, Charles Henry Luders gave us this quick lesson in the "Rondelet":
A RONDELET
Is just seven verses rhymed on two.
A rondelet
Is an old jewel quaintly set
In poesy--a drop of dew
Caught in a roseleaf. Lo! For you,
A rondelet.
While each poem in the rondeau family is derived from a dance round set to music, the rondelet is also a short, disciplined format. There are a mere seven lines. A rondelet composed in French will be syllabic, counting 4-8-4-8-8-8-4. When written in English, the syllable count is often disregarded, and tends to be iambic. You are free to use the strict syllable count or choose another! While the strictness of the French-style meter helps to bring a spare beauty to your verse, a looser English-style meter can give you a little room to play around with this form. However, there must be meter and flow even if you choose a looser interpretation of the rules. "Rondelet", above, hews very close to the French syllable count, but not exactly, and its meter and flow are similar to what we are aiming for, here. Try reading your piece out loud to be sure it doesn't sound choppy.

This format is also rhymed, and the scheme ends up looking like this:
A (Refrain)
B
R
A
B
B
R
The first line, our rentrement, becomes the third and the seventh line as well.

A fun way to approach the rondelet is to begin it like a traditional haiku. Pick two clear images and try to reconcile them. Be sure to take your time in selecting the perfect descriptions, and don't settle for something easy or trite. It's not difficult to turn a small piece like this into doggerel. It's like walking a tightrope: you have to find a balance, adhering to the format yet allowing your own voice to shape it. Don't be afraid to modify the strictest rules as needed, while treating them with respect.

I couldn't find any online, readily available versions of the rondelet, none I truly liked, so I don't have an example to post for you in the article. I will of course link up along with runaway sentence. at the bottom when my version is posted, and look forward to reading your versions of this tricky, yet rewarding, little form.

20 comments:

Kerry O'Connor said...

This looks like it will be a lot of fun.. will definitely try to wrap my tired brain around it.

Marian said...

whew! i found this challenge very challenging. i think maybe mine turned out to be doggerel :)

Kim Nelson said...

giving this a go...

Abin Chakraborty said...

this is the first time I have tried something like this.of course this doesnt come naturally.just hope its not too bad :)

Kerry O'Connor said...

Thank you for joining us Abin. As a side note, the link you left us took me to a different poem, but I found your Rondelet on the front page of your blog.

Abin Chakraborty said...

Ah! yes the link was wrong.anyway, thanks for the comments Kerry and Kim.this was fun!

Abin Chakraborty said...

here's the correct link again:
http://abinsliteraryworld.blogspot.com/2011/08/anxiety-creeps.html

Cad said...

I like a challenge...

Philip Thrift said...

A play with "A Whiter Shade of Pale".

Laurie Kolp said...

I had fun gardening today, except...

http://lkharris-kolp.blogspot.com/2011/08/who-is-she.html/

Grace O'Malley said...

Oh man. I'm challenged and I came up with the idea in the first place. Ouch, my dignity!

Love that there are so many responses to this one!!

Old Raven said...

Hm ... I thought that I had left a comment yesterday. Well after much hard work ... I have turned out a rondelet that I hope pretty much keeps to the count and rhyme but OH MY ... it is doggerel. Silly but I had to initially do this with the poems of others in my view, until that really confused me. Thank you for this opportunity.

Robert Lloyd said...

Ok so I think I wrote a rondelet but then I think I wrote a doggerel. I too opened up a poem and the directions here and went from there. The poem I opeend to use as an example was Marian's but she syas hers was a doggerel lol. So I wrote something...you tell me waht it was lol. I am off to visit the others.

Ella said...

This was tough, but I needed to push myself~ Great exercise Grace!

Marian said...

two observations. first, i love that Grace has us referring to our crappy poems as doggerel, it's so much more dignified than saying crap. and also? NOW we can find plenty of interesting rondelets on the internet! rondelet, rondelet!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

The funny thing is, I real Old Raven's, quickly penned mine down, went into read Robb's and he and I both wrote on the same topic.......too funny. Great minds, and all that......(or not-so-great, in my case!)

vivinfrance said...

There's nothing wrong with doggerel - it usually makes me laugh, and that can't be bad.

I enjoyed this exercise very much, though the result is nothing to write home about!

vivinfrance said...

Kim, I tried three times to comment on your lovely, lovely poem, but couldn't make the comment stick. I said something like "probably the closest to the original French form."

Grace O'Malley said...

I dusted off my rusty French skills (and my dictionary) for the second attempt. I hope it's not completely screwed up... :)

Kerry O'Connor said...

We all had such a lot of fun with this challenge. Thanks Grace, Can't wait to see what we will have to pit our wits against next time.