Whittled Words – Roundelay Poem



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Welcome to the weekly series, Whittled Words. A series highlighting the innumerable types and styles of poetry to challenge any creative wordsmith. This week’s selection:

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ROUNDELAY POEM

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Technically, the roundelay is any simple lyric poem that uses a refrain, and I have offered samples of various forms for your enjoyment. My version is in a interesting form I found in a version of a John Dryden roundelay in Lewis Turco’s “The New Book of Forms”. It appears to apply a cascading effect on the refrains. Basically, the roundelay is comprised of just an “A” rhyme and a “B” rhyme–with most of the lines acting as refrains.

Here is how the rhymes and refrains (capitalized with a number look) for my example:

Line 1: a
Line 2: b
Line 3: A1
Line 4: B1
Line 5: A2
Line 6: B2

Line 7: A1
Line 8: B1
Line 9: A3
Line 10: B3
Line 11: A2
Line 12: B2

Line 13: A3
Line 14: B3
Line 15: A4
Line 16: B4
Line 17: A2
Line 18: B2

Line 19: A4
Line 20: B4
Line 21: a
Line 22: b
Line 23: A2
Line 24: B2

As you can see, the A2-B2 lines complete each stanza–so these might be the most important lines of the entire poem, as every other line bounces off this refrain. You will find other structures below a little less repetitious, but just as delightful and challenging.

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Examples of Roundelay Poems:

 

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SONG FROM AELLA

(Excerpt, first three stanzas)

 

By Thomas Chatterton

 

 

O SING unto my roundelay,

O drop the briny tear with me;

Dance no more at holyday,

Like a running river be:

My love is dead,

Gone to his death-bed

All under the willow-tree.

Black his cryne as the winter night,

White his rode as the summer snow,

Red his face as the morning light,

Cold he lies in the grave below:

My love is dead,

Gone to his death-bed

All under the willow-tree.

Sweet his tongue as the throstle’s note,

Quick in dance as thought can be,

Deft his tabor, cudgel stout;

O he lies by the willow-tree!

My love is dead,

Gone to his death-bed

All under the willow-tree.

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THE OWL

 

By Ted Hughes

When cats run home and light is come,

And dew is cold upon the ground,

And the far-off stream is dumb,

And the whirring sail goes round,

And the whirring sail goes round;

Alone and warming his five wits,

The white owl in the belfry sits.

When merry milkmaids click the latch,

And rarely smells the new-mown hay,

And the cock hath sung beneath the thatch

Twice or thrice his roundelay,

Twice or thrice his roundelay;

Alone and warming his five wits,

The white owl in the belfry sits.

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TWO

(Example of cascading refrains)

 

By Brad Osborne

 

 

Written upon my history

And on each day given new

Love remained a mystery

Until my life found you

And there within your reverie

I found a love so true

Love remained a mystery

Until my life found you

World that you offered me

No longer seen so blue

And there within your reverie

I found a love so true

World that you offered me

No longer seen so blue

Warmed by your beauty

It shone a different hue

And there within your reverie

I found a love so true

Warmed by your beauty

It shone a different hue

Alone was not my destiny

Though known by only two

And there within your reverie

I found a love so true

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I hope you have enjoyed this entry to the series, Whittled Words. I look forward to your comments, and if you dare, maybe share your own Roundelay poem. Thanks for reading!

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Comments
12 Responses to “Whittled Words – Roundelay Poem”
  1. jonicaggiano says:

    I like this style Brad. Your examples were lovely but as usual I prefer your lovely love poem in the Roundelay style. Beautiful Brad. The style reminds me of a song a little. Thanks for sharing Brad. I hope you are having a great week and that you are well and staying out of trouble. Sending you a lovely vase of spring wildflowers and a package of hugs and love that will last a while. Love ❤️ Jonikins

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Thank you Jonikins! I am not sure I like the cascading refrain style I improvised as much as the simpler versions I shared. But I do appreciate the flowers, love, and support.

      • jonicaggiano says:

        Well I loved it. You are so welcome for the goodies my sweet friend. Sending hugs and love ❤️ always. We can never have too much love. Jonikins

  2. Jim Borden says:

    and there within your reverie
    I found a poem so true

    well done, Brad. I like this style of poem…

  3. beth says:

    I like this musical, lyrical style

  4. kristianw84 says:

    I really like this style! The poems read so lyrically, but yours, of course, is my favorite! ❤

  5. Brilliant example of this most appealing poetic style or form. Lovely verses my friend! All the best to you and happy weekend!
    FBC.

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Thank you Francisco! I hope your weekend is filled with sunshine, family, friends, and good wine!

      • Well, two out of three isn’t bad. First day of spring and it has been the coldest windiest day in the week! But, it is spring now and we do have good wine…
        All the best to you as well, my dear friend, may you enjoy a happy weekend in peace, warmth and tranquillity, and with good wine, family and friends as well!
        FBC.

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