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Rondeau Definition

A Rondeau is a type of poem that has fifteen lines in total. There are also two different rhymes that run throughout the poem. Many poets like to use the Rondeau as a basic structure because it sounds so pleasing to the ear. Also, the first line is repeated in part throughout the poem.

It might sound complex, but it is actually quite simple. The first two lines rhyme with each other (call it a, a), and the second two rhyme (b, b). The next lines are triple a, and then a b. So, this set also has the same rhyming to it.

Then, to break it up, there is the first line of the poem repeated in part (called A). Then another a,a,b,b,; and then an a. The final line of the poem is simply A.

The following will show this structure: aabba aabR aabbaR

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.

Rondeau Poem 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.

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Other Rondeau 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


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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