Jan 27, 2011


The rondeau began as a lyric form in thirteenth-century France, popular among medieval court poets and musicians. Named after the French word for "round," the rondeau is characterized by the repeating lines of the refrain and the two rhyme sounds throughout. The form was originally a musical vehicle devoted to emotional subjects such as spiritual worship, courtship, romance, and the changing of seasons.

The rondeau’s form is not difficult to recognize: it is composed of fifteen lines, eight to ten syllables each, divided stanzaically into a quintet, a quatrain, and a sestet. The refrain consists of the first few words or the entire first line of the first stanza, and it recurs as the last line of both the second and third stanzas. Two rhymes guide the music of the rondeau, whose rhyme scheme is as follows (R representing the refrain):

Quintet: (Ra)abba
Quatrain: aabR
Sestet: aabbaR

Within the Dark

Within the dark I hear a call
It wraps around me like a shawl
The time has come to set things right
To mend the broken soul of night
And hope disaster to forestall

It started with an angel’s fall
That cast upon my mind a pall
No redemption is forthright
Within the dark

I wonder when we’ll see it all
When time slows down to just a crawl
The rise, the fall, eternal fight
Of deepest dark against the light
Of all the things that can befall
Within the dark

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