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Rondeau Definition

Poetry Definition of Rondeau

A rondeau (plural rondeaux) is a form of French poetry with 15 lines written on two rhymes. Variant forms may have 10 or 13 lines. It makes use of refrains, repeated according to a certain stylized pattern. It was customarily regarded as a challenge to arrange for these refrains to contribute to the meaning of the poem in as succinct and poignant a manner as possible. The rondeau consists of thirteen lines of eight syllables, plus two refrains (which are half lines, each of four syllables), employing, altogether, only three rhymes. It has three stanzas and its rhyme scheme is as follows: (1) A A B B A (2) A A B with refrain: C (3) A A B B A with concluding refrain C. The refrain must be identical with the beginning of the first line.

Example

Perhaps the best-known rondeau is the following World War I poem,

In Flanders Fields, by John McCrae:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead; short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe!
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high!
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Top 5 Rondeau Poem Examples

Standard Definition

[n] a French verse form of 10 or 13 lines running on two rhymes; the opening phrase is repeated as the refrain of the second and third stanzas
[n] a musical form that is often the last movement of a sonata


More below...


Synonyms

rondel, rondo

Misc. Definitions

\Ron*deau"\, n. [F. See {Roundel}.] [Written also {rondo}.]
1. A species of lyric poetry so composed as to contain a refrain or repetition which recurs according to a fixed law, and a limited number of rhymes recurring also by rule. Note: When the rondeau was called the rondel it was mostly written in fourteen octosyllabic lines of two rhymes, as in the rondels of Charles d'Orleans. . . . In the 17th century the approved form of the rondeau was a structure of thirteen verses with a refrain. --Encyc. Brit.
2. (Mus.) See {Rondo}, 1.

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