Friday, 18 January 2019

Meddle with a roundelay


For the launch of the Meddling with Poetry course, starting in Feb 2019, I'm sharing 16 delicious forms of poetry I've discovered, each of them a delight to play with.

Meddle with a roundelay poem: Take repetition to the max - every pair of lines gets repeated! You have 4 stanzas of 6 lines each, rhyming ababab. The last two lines of all the stanzas are the same. Plus, the middle two lines of each stanza get reused as the first two lines of the next stanza.

There are lots of lovely repeating forms, but this one really goes all out - without being too tricky either. You have four verses of six lines each, rhyming ababab. The lines repeat in pairs: the last two lines of all the stanzas are the same (that's the refrain). Plus, the middle two lines of each stanza get reused as the first two lines of the next stanza. I like to draw this kind of thing out for myself in colour:


ORANGE a
ORANGE b
RED a
RED b
REFRAIN a
REFRAIN b

RED a
RED b
PURPLE a
PURPLE b
REFRAIN a
REFRAIN b

PURPLE a
PURPLE b
BLUE a
BLUE b
REFRAIN a
REFRAIN b

BLUE a
BLUE b
GREEN a
GREEN b
REFRAIN a
REFRAIN b


It also uses a set metre of DUM-di DUM-di DUM-di DUM-di. (If you're feeling grand, you call that "trochaic tetrametre" because DUM-di is a trochee and "tetrametre" means there's four of them.)

Here's a thoroughly joyous roundelay I wrote. The previous day's copla real hadn't captured what I wanted to say at all, or the energy and enthusiasm, so I cheerfully cannibalised it and rewrote the same thoughts as a roundelay, which I was much happier with. Back to the joys of spring, this time with vigour! (In the last line of each verse, I shortened the metre ever so slightly, leaving off the final "di".)

Feel the suckling sap that rises
tiny flowers, bluebells ringing
soft as sky in shy disguises.
All the world is juicy, springing
thick with life and wet surprises:
taste the juice in everything.

Soft as sky in shy disguises,
all the world is juicy, springing
green and thrusting. Life advises
us to whisper bees – the stinging
thick with life and wet surprises:
taste the juice in everything.

Green and thrusting life advises
us to whisper bees, the stinging
sweet as greedy weeds, whose prize is
sunlight. Like a dewdrop singing,
thick with life and wet surprises,
taste the juice in everything.

Sweet as greedy weeds whose prize is
sunlight, like a dewdrop singing,
like the hawthorn tantalises,
we are rising sap and clinging
thick with life and wet surprises.
Taste the juice in everything.
Go forth, sing, and roundelay!

Note: To respect copyright, these blog posts only use my own poems as examples. On the course, I'm licensed to give my students copyright poems, so you'll see lots of others.

The Meddling with Poetry course starts in February 2019 and explores a host of different poetry forms, as well as the musicality of language, poetic imagery, and other aspects of the poetic. Absolute beginners and experienced writers are equally welcome. You can read more details and book a place here.


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