A page from the "Poetry through the Ages" exhibit...

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A descendant of Ancient Greek echo verse, chain verse uses the same closing word or syllable from one line to open the next line.

Chain verse is one of the most obscure forms for which any written evidence is available; only two examples are widely circulated. The medieval form likely was a spoken-word vehicle used to communicate news and tidings in France; hence, the dearth of published poems. Its catchiness and pleasing rhythm to the ear helps explain why it did not survive the Middle Ages and early post-Renaissance as a written form.

Chain verse
Chain verse has two known forms: one repeats the last work or syllable of a line with the first word or syllable of the next line, while the other repeats the last line of each stanza with the first line of the following stanza.
Rhyme: Lines often rhyme; the last word or syllable of one stanza is repeated as the first word or syllable of next stanza
Structure: Multiple stanzas, primarily quatrains
Measure/Beat: Varied
Common Themes: Nature, mortality, spiritual
Other Notes:
  • Created in spoken-word musical style to repeat news, events, and gossip to villagers
  • Used to disguise political and personal news during French Crusades
  • Highlighted by a catchy repetition of the last word or syllable of one line with the beginning of the next line