How to Write a Rondeau

This past week, I took turns diving into new poetic forms that I can use to make my upcoming poetry collection more diverse. Among those new forms was the Rondeau.

The Rondeau is one of the fixed forms of French poetry and became popular in the 14th/15th centuries. It consists of fourteen lines split up into three stanzas and looks something like this:

  • First Stanza: AABBA
  • Second Stanza: AABR
  • Third Stanza: AABBAR

The R represents the refrain, which is the first four syllables of the beginning stanza, so choose those words carefully because you will repeat them! Also, consider your end words because you’ll need something that has at least 5-8 rhymes.

One last thing is the meter. A Rondeau uses Iambic Tetrameter (4 beats per line) except for the refrain, which is in Iambic Diameter (2 beats per line). The meter makes it easy for you to sing your poem or put it to music, so lyrics and emotions are also factors in the Rondeau’s construction.  

With that in mind, here is my first attempt at writing a Rondeau. Enjoy!

Remember When

Remember when we used to dance 
Upon the graves and took a chance 
Sowing what we aim to reap 
Surrounded by the endless sleep 
Beneath the dark, starry expanse 
The bones rattled as we pranced 
Lost within our moonlit trance 
Taking an unfettered leap 
Remember when 
We dreamed of making our advance 
But got derailed by circumstance 
Hard enough to make us weep 
And the price we paid was steep 
For you gave up on our romance 
          Remember when 

To learn more about this versatile poetic form, check out The Writing Cooperative and Encyclopedia Britannica. Then, write your own Rondeau in the comments! I’d love to read them!

Also, if you liked this poem, you can find it and more in my upcoming collection By the Bones, which will be released Halloween 2020!

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