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

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The rondeau ("round") is a medieval formes fixe poem that features 15 lines with a set rhyme scheme, broken into three stanzas – quatrain, quintet, and sestet.

The rondeau is characterized by repeating lines of the refrain and the two rhyme sounds throughout. It derives from the rondel, which first appeared in the 12th century, and is related to the triolet and its popular descendant, the villanelle.

Rhyme: aabba-aabR-aabbaR
Structure: 15 lines, three stanzas – quatrain, quintet, sestet
Measure/Beat: Iambic tetrameter
Common Themes: Death, forlorn love, tributes, love
Other Notes:
  • The rentrement (refrain) begins the poem as its first line
  • Two rhymes dictate the poem
  • Abbreviated rentrement repeats as the final line of second and third stanzas