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Poetry Tutorials and random advice
From basic forms to advanced refining techniques.
From basic forms to advanced refining techniques.

Poetry Tutorials and random advice's interests
Poetry Tutorials and random advice's posts

Since I did ballades, I've decided to do ballads next to show the difference between the styles.

Ballads often have verses (or stanzas) with multiples of four lines.  Common rhyming pattern: either abac, aabb or acbc.  They are usually full of repetition, often with choruses. Sets of three appear often in ballads.  Sometimes ballad have a question in one stanza, which is answered in the next one. Dialogs are rather common also, as is describing actions in first person.

But most of all, ballads tell of an event.  Their main purpose was to spread news in a very entertaining (or riveting) and often larger than life fashion.  However, as noted by all the modifying "common", "often", and "usually", this is a very flexible form.

The Ballad of Bobby the Sheep 

Let me sing about a ram 
A sheepy gent named Bobby 
Softest wool in all the land 
Beloved by fair Timari 
In the Harvest Faire Sheep Race 
Bobby was eager to win 
The other sheep were scary 
But he couldn’t wait to begin 

The first leg was down a hill 
Then Bobby saw the monster 
Gargantua the War Sheep 
Carnivorous, breathing fire 
Fear the great motivator 
Bobby’s bladder emptied fast 
With the fluid aiding him 
He slither down on his a$$ 

The gate before was nothing 
Gargantua hunting him 
Inspired Bobby to fly high 
‘Bove the gate to save his limbs 
The dark, dank tunnel was next 
Bobby ran in before the pack 
His white wool scraping the sides 
Sprouting batwings on his back 

Timtam fainted at the sight 
Her beloved ram was deformed 
Saira snapped her out of it 
The flying sheep was unharmed 
Bobby trotted over the tree 
Unmindful of the stream 
The bats actually helped him 
A perfectly balanced team 

Faced with the gauntlet before 
Bobby was ready to quit 
He had done enough he felt 
And was preparing to sit 
But Timari’s screams urged him 
Forward through the scarecrow flags 
The ram trotted through the row 
Without fear his spirit lagged 

With Timtam’s encouragement 
He ran as if on fire 
Racing Siren’s Masked Swaledale 
The race ended on a tie 
That’s my song about a ram 
A sheepy gent named Bobby 
Softest wool in all the land 
Beloved by fair Timari 


The BALLADE (pronounced "bah-LAYD" not "BAH-led") is a French poetry form (literally "a dancing song"). It is a four-stanza poem in which the last line of all is the same. The first three stanzas have the following rhyming scheme: 


The last stanza is shorter: 


There is a fear that deeply grips my heart
A fear I wouldn’t dare tell to even you
It haunts my soul whenever we’re apart
I deny its existence, though I know it’s true
But the pain that rends my core cuts through
My inner thoughts twists in anguish and agony
I have no earthly idea what I can do
So I hold it tightly inside of me

I school the tears before they can start
Do not tell me they are Heaven’s dew
For it is putting the horse before the cart
To claim those tears are for the want of you
My fortitude and stoic-ness I shall renew
My life needs none of romance’s devilry
I have no desire to bid reason adieu
So I hold it tightly inside of me

Do not tempt me with Aphrodite’s art
Nor mock me with Anteros’ review
My view of love may be bitter and tart
But I’ll never speak of it openly to you
I want you to still believe that hope is true
That living stories can end happily
I don’t want you to despair as I do
So I hold it tightly inside of me

Friendship will just have to make do
My love will only give you misery
I would rather die than do that to you
So I hold it tightly inside of me


A rondeau or rondel is one of the three formes fixes (literally "fixed forms") of medieval and Renaissance French poetry.  The other two are the ballade and virelai  It has several forms, including the triolet and rondeau redoublé.  It’s plural form is rondeaux.

To quote

begins with a full statement of its refrain, which consists of two halves. This is followed first by a section of non-refrain material that mirrors the metrical structure and rhyme of the refrain's first half, then by a repetition of the first half of the refrain, then by a new section corresponding to the structure of the full refrain, and finally by a full restatement of the refrain. Thus, it can be schematically represented as AB-aAab-AB, where "A" and "B" are the repeated refrain parts, and "a" and "b" the remaining verses. If the poem has more than one stanza, it continues with further sequences of aAab-AB, aAab-AB, etc.

In practice, it looks like this, with "|" showing the repeated sections:


|[A] Know that I still love you
|[B] Even though we were fated to be apart
.[a] Even as the silence grew 
|[A] Know that I still love you
.[a] Like the mist loves the dew
.[b] With the depth and breadth of my heart
|[A] Know that I still love you
|[B] Even though we were fated to be apart


|[A] Let us dance under the stars
|[B] Embraced by the pale moonlight
|[B] In the darkness of the night
.[a] While Venus flirts with Mars
.[b] And Cupid finds delight
|[A] Let us dance under the stars
|[B] Embraced by the pale moonlight
.[a] As shadows illuminate hidden scars
.[b] Let us enjoy this lovely night
.[b] A world hidden from our sight
|[A] Let us dance under the stars
|[B] Embraced by the pale moonlight
|[B] In the darkness of the night

To keep my notations from looking too clutter in a straight text environment, I didn’t label the repeated B rhyming lines as [B1] and [B2].   The "tercet" part refers to the fact that the refrain has three lines - not to be confused with the tercet poetry form, which uses only the A-B-A rhyming pattern.  Two other rondeau forms are the "quatrain" (4 line refrain) and "cinquain" (5 line refrain).


|[A] Dance, my jolly friends, dance!
|[B] Don’t let the troubles of your day
|[B] Get into merriment’s way.
|[A] Give the music and beat a chance.
.[a] Like a foal without a care, prance!
.[b] If you can’t skip, then dip and sway
|[A] Dance, my jolly friends, dance!
|[B] Don’t let the troubles of your day
.[a] Upset life’s lovely balance.
.[b] Shoo those pesky things away.
.[b] Now is the time to sing and play.
.[a] Don’t give sadness a second glance.
|[A] Dance, my jolly friends, dance!
|[B] Don’t let the troubles of your day
|[B] Get into merriment’s way.
|[A] Give the music and beat a chance.

I personally experience two problems while writing rondeaux. First, I have to make sure I start with two rhyming sounds that have enough words in them to last the full poem.  Being limited to two rhymes really cramps my style.  And second, when I get to the quatrain version, my brain starts singing Abba songs, which I have to make sure don't find their way into my poems.


|[A] They had a tryst under the apple trees
|[A] The sweet scent of blossoms in the breeze
|[B] When their love was fresh and new
|[B] And the world was bright with dew
|[A] Lovers who did just as they please
.[a] There was no one else to appease
.[a] Underneath those apple trees
.[b] As the doves above them cooed
|[A] They had a tryst under the apple trees
|[A] The sweet scent of blossoms in the breeze
|[B] When their love was fresh and new
.[a] Dining on fine wine and old cheese
.[a] The lovers laughed and teased
.[b] With no regretful past to review
.[b] The life before them joyous and new
.[a] A world full of opportunities to seize
|[A] They had a tryst under the apple trees
|[A] The sweet scent of blossoms in the breeze
|[B] When their love was fresh and new
|[B] And the world was bright with dew
|[A] Lovers who did just as they please

Alternate forms of the French rondeau includes the 12 line prime, the 13 line, and the 15 line.  I may write examples of these at a later date. Right now, I think I have enough examples here for those new to the form.  

The English rondeau is basically rondeaux written in the English language (which means my above examples are technically this form).  However, there is a version that that is more prevalent in English than in French - the 16th-century 15-line form with a rentrement or re-entry of the opening lines (aabba–aabR–aabbaR).  _In Flanders Field_ is probably the most popular English rondeau known to modern audiences.

The following English rondeau was written for a story, where the character involved knew he would soon die.

[a] Remember me when the day is young
[a] When the world awakes and work's begun
[b] The best part of my day was waking with you
[b] More lovely than roses and prettier than dew
[a] With "good morning love" rolling off your tongue

[a] Ours was the greatest love left unsung
[a] As deep today as when our wedding bells rung
[b] While the sparrow fly in the sky so blue
[R] Remember me

[a] Now that Fate's arrow has been sprung
[a] Gone are the hopes to which I had clung
[b] Dreams of growing old with you
[b] Dreams of having children too
[a] While you still live and I am gone
[R] Remember me

A particularly complex version of the rondeau, is the rondeau redouble, which follows the A1,B1,A2,B2 - b,a,b,A1 - a,b,a,B1 - b,a,b,A2 - a,b,a,B2 - b,a,b,a,(A1) structure.

[A1] I don't want to talk to you now
[B1] I just want peace and quiet rest
[A2] Tell your grievances to the cows
[B2] My temper has been too long suppressed
[b] It is not a subject to be pressed
[a] It's not my fault you don't understand how
[b] You managed to make all things distressed
[A1] I don't want to talk to you now

[a] Go ahead and furrow your brow
[b] Because I denied your request
[a] I have no desire to please or kowtow
[B1] I just want peace and quiet rest

[b] Yes, you are quite a persistent pest
[a] No matter to what degree you disavow
[b] My inclination to help has lost its zest
[A2] Tell your grievances to the cows

[a] Maybe they have patience to plow
[b] Through your ever demanding behests
[a] Don't bother me with your threats and vows
[B2] My temper has been too long suppressed

[b] I'm sure there are issues to be addressed
[a] But for this moment I must say ciao
[b] And from my deepest heart confess
[A1] I don't want to talk to you now

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Breton Lai
The Breton lai is composed of rhymed couplets with lines that are eight syllables in length. The subject of the verse is a tale of love and chivalry, often involving supernatural and fairy-world Celtic motifs.  “The Franklin’s Tale” in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is an example of a Breton Lai.  According to Wikipedia ( lais are short poems of 600 to 1000 lines.  Something to tell my best friend the next time she teases me about not being able to write something short.

Recently, I was requested to write following Breton lai for a Renaissance role-playing game.  It is based off of the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  For the curious, this piece is 136 lines long – a very short lai by Medieval standards.

The Adventure of Sir Gawain

Let me tell you about a night
In King Arthur's castle of might.
'Twas Yuletide and the mood was gay.
People laughed and musicians played.
There were savory meats and pies;
Breney, beer, and breads made from rye;
Cheeses, boiled beets, butter, and cream;
Pickled eggs and puddings that steam.

A merry time was had by all
When a horse burst into the hall.
A lord in vibrant verdigris
Disrupted the festivities - 
Mocked the King and his royal court
With his vicious parody of sport.
“Come, strike me once, while I’m unarmed
And I will gift you this axe unharmed.
But a year from now, you must find
Me and let me strike you in kind.”
With prodding jeers the Green Knight spoke
Until Arthur, himself, was provoked.
But Gawain rose to his king’s side,
“Uncle, let me face his false pride.
Please ignore this foolish man’s jest.
Let me, your kin, take this request.
For of all your knights, I'm least tried,
And the one least missed from your side."
Arthur's other counselor's agreed,
For Kingly blood there was no need.

Gawain stepped forth and gave his name.
The Green Knight did not do the same.
A smile across his face did spread.
"Sir, you can have my name," he said,
"Also the name of where I be,
So in a year you can find me."
Gawain took the bright axe of gold,
And walked up to the knight so bold,
And with a swing removed his head.
The green lord stood, but was not dead.
He grabbed his own head by the hair,
And pronounced to all standing there,
"I'm the Knight of the Green Chapel,
And it is there where I do dwell.
In a year,” the headless man said,
“I will expect you there as pledged.”
Arthur urged merriment to all,
As he put the axe on the wall.

‘Twas All Saints Day when Gawain left.
Arthur in attendance bereft.
Without knowledge of the knight’s place,
Gawain rode off in faith and grace
On Gringolet, his loyal steed
A noble beast, he was indeed.
Confronting wild beasts and the chill
Gawain faced certain death with skill
As Yuletide came, Gawain concerned,
Prayed the location he would learn,
So he would keep his given word
To stand in front of the Green Lord.
The next snowy morn he ventured 
In a hoary wood, he entered.
Prayed again for guidance divine
A stronghold appeared past the pine.
The porter led him to the hall
Where a fine meal was laid for all.
At the head of the table overt
Sat Bertilak de Hautdesert. 
His beautiful wife on the right - 
To his left, a crone with eyes bright.
The lord firmly assured Gawain
Two mile away the chapel lain.
It would take him no time at all
To reach before the New Year falls.
“Rest until then in my fair home!
‘Tis Yuletide and none should roam.”

When morn came the lord made a deal -
Whatever was caught by his zeal
Would go to Gawain in exchange
For whatever he that day had gained.
Not long after the hold’s lord went,
The lady begged Gawain’s consent.
But he only took a single kiss
To keep her from feeling dismissed.
When the hunting party returned
He kept the lady’s name unlearned.
One kiss he gave to Bertilak
For the deer the lord had brought back.
On the morrow they left again.
The lady became even bolder then.
Two kisses were all he would take.
For he was a knight, not a rake.
So that evening for the boar,
He gave two kisses and no more.
The third morn, she was more direct.
But all he agreed to was three pecks.
Then she offered her girdle green,
Which granted him protection keen.
Quite aware that he might soon die,
Gawain took it and chose to lie.
For Bertilak’s fox were kisses three,
But not the girdle given he.

Then came that fateful New Year’s day 
When Gawain must give his life away.
He rode to the chapel and stood
To take the blows he said he would.
Calmly stood there baring his throat,
As the Green knight grinned and gloat.
But his first blow was only feigned
And the second blow was the same.
Angry Gawain told him to go
And deliver the fatal blow.
The third swing drew blood, nothing more.
‘Twas merely a scratch he endured.
The disguise dropped showing his host.
Bertilak was the knight that boast.
The whole thing was a clever ruse
By one who wanted Arthur ‘bused.
She, Morgana the Sorceress,
Had hoped to cause fear and distress.
So she transformed Sir Bertilak,
Into the knight who gave attack.
Gawain was ashamed of hiding
The girdle that kept him striding.
While his host laughed and saw no wrong
The moral guilt was way too strong.
He tied the girdle to his wrist,
To remind him of his weakness.
Back in Camelot, he confessed,
The mortal failing he possessed.
The other knights absolved his blame
For it was a deceitful game.
And so they too wore green armbands,
In recognition of this man.
This man honorable and pure,
Through malicious trials he endured.
You may think yourself above stain,
But you’ll never match Sir Gawain.

Thank you, Google! I can now access my pages through my phone! 

Hello, everyone.

As some may have noticed, I haven't posted anything on my Google+ pages for the past two months.  My laptop died the same day my mother did.  I've also had other pressing commitments that has given me very little free time.  I hadn't forgotten my G+ pages, but I couldn't access them from my phone (save to view them) and the computers I had access to had ancient browsers I could not upgrade, which didn't support Google+.

It will probably be another week or two before I have everything sorted out.  I lost my list of future topics for my poetry tutorial page, but it will not be difficult to recreated it – just time consuming.  I think I may have a new poem or two saved elsewhere, which I can retrieve.  As for my short stories, I do have them backed up and will be re-evaluating everything in that regards.

I hope that all of you have been doing well and look forward to making these pages active again.

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Anadiplosis #poetryelement

Simply put, anadiplosis is when you end a line with a word and then start the next line with the same word. 

For example:

I am surrounded by people
People unaware of my presence

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One of my favorite Odgen Nash poems, read by the poet himself.

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A haiku done to the Westernized standard taught in most American schools.

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