Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Poetry Stretch - Roundel

After spending quite a bit of time writing poetry this weekend, I'm up for a bit of a form challenge. A roundel is a variation of the roundeau. In the book A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms, Paul Janeczko calls it a roundel and defines it this way.
A roundel is a three-stanza poem of 11 lines. The stanzas have four, three, and four lines in them and a rhyme scheme of abab bab abab. Ah, but there's more. Line 4 is repeated as line 11 -- not an easy trick!
The roundel in the book, entitled A Silver Trapeze, was written by Alice Schertle, a woman who once said "Writing poetry is difficult, absorbing, frustrating, satisfying, maddening, intriguing – and I love all of it!" I'm with her there.

Here is a roundel about a roundel.
The Roundel
By Algernon Charles Swinburne

A roundel is wrought as a ring or a starbright sphere,
With craft of delight and with cunning of sound unsought,
That the heart of the hearer may smile if to pleasure his ear
A roundel is wrought.

Its jewel of music is carven of all or of aught--
Love, laughter, or mourning--remembrance of rapture or fear--
That fancy may fashion to hang in the ear of thought.

As a bird's quick song runs round, and the hearts in us hear
Pause answer to pause, and again the same strain caught,
So moves the device whence, round as a pearl or tear,
A roundel is wrought.
Will you join me this week in writing a roundel? Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results later this week. Happy writing!


  1. Erg--this is going to take a lot of thought and I am in the middle of some tricksy work on a graphic novel. I think I will pass. Never mastered the roundel before (though much admire the form) or even attempted one, but this is not the time for me to try. Good luck all. I look forward to admiring what comes out.


  2. Oh, just go on. Push me out of my comfort zone, why don't ya!

    I've never attempted a roundel. I'll try. I think.

  3. Kristy - That's exactly what I'm here for! Don't know that I'll be able to do it myself, but I'm going to try.

  4. A Halloween Poem of Ill Manners and Iller Meter

    Godfrey was an annoying gent.
    He died of gout, but came back a ghost.
    He crept into our kitchen, then
    He willfully burnt the toast.

    He ate the Spam. He stole the roast.
    The spoons he bent. The dishtowels he rent!
    With chocolate syrup he engrossed

    Messages of ill temperment.
    But what bothered us most,
    Aside from all the money spent,
    He willfully burnt the toast.

  5. Okay, I've been trying to write a sea turtle poem, so that's where I went with this. Love "willfully burnt the toast," by the way. And Tricia, your poetry adventure sounds fantastic!

    Sea Turtle Roundel

    Sea Turtle swims through a brine-green sky,
    sweeping the water with flippers like brooms.
    The jellyfish shiver when she goes by,
    round and austere as a leathery moon.

    Her back is marked with ancient runes,
    a map to a beach where a whale's bones lie.
    She buries her secret up near the dunes,

    then leaves without so much as a lullaby.
    The seagulls chant an ominous tune,
    but Sea Turtle doesn't have time to hear their cry,
    round and austere as a leathery moon.

  6. I love these last lines, both the fun "willfully burnt the toast" and the haunting "round and austere as a leathery moon". There is magic in that sea turtle.


    Whispers are rising from under each mound
    calling to me though they gave up this game
    of living for death, for peace underground.
    I trace every name.

    Babies and teachers and ministers came.
    One final party for lying around,
    remembering days of laughter and shame.

    Why do I visit them? What have I found?
    A voice clear as wind chimes – You are a flame.
    Where did it come from? I search for the sound.
    I trace every name.

  7. I posted mine at my blog, Tricia. And what of these things metrically? Alice's seems quite fluid though Swinburne's is a bit more exact. I wasn't sure if I should count syllables or just allow it to sound right to my ear.

  8. Oh, and my blog address would be:

  9. Quite a challenge! Swinburne's model turns the first phrase of the first line into Lines 4 and 11, so I wrote mine with that in mind.

    Backyard Junco

    Just a little junco in the apple tree
    this morning was enough to make me fiddle
    with my plans, make me wait & see
    (just a little)

    what the day would bring. I put the kettle
    on, rethought my errands, made a cup of tea,
    settled in by the window. The junco's whistle

    (just the hint of one, no bigger than the middle
    letter of September)the birders call a "buzy zeet" - her ee-ee-ee
    was Greek to me. But I love an autumn riddle
    (especially if it's little.)

    [I can't quite tell if the format will hold for that - if it's garbled, I'll repost it.]

  10. I found your blog through Kristy's blog and decided to take you up on your challenge. You'll find my roundel on my blog (

    Thanks for the stretch!

  11. This sure is a finnicky little form! Here's my little roundel about fall - thanks for the stretch!


    Summer’s face has turned away
    and winter’s chill is calling.
    Skyblue sky turned steely gray,
    autumn is falling.

    The pumpkin vines are sprawling.
    Frost arrived and plans to stay,
    but summer lawns are stalling

    Apples sweeten by the day,
    and corn’s piled high for hauling.
    Jewel-toned maples swing and sway,
    autumn is falling.

  12. This is a fun form! Mine is up for Friday Poetry here. Thanks for challenging us!