The roundel is another form devised by the prolific Algernon Charles Swinburne. This one is based on the rondeau. (There is also a form called the Chaucerian roundel, which is a different) Here is an example of Swinburne's roundel form, promoting the Japanese art of paper-folding:

One coloured square of paper has untold
Potential which an expert can release.
Whole zoos for those well-versed in how to fold
One coloured square.

Seals, whales, storks, elephants, bears, monkeys, geese,
And more, can all be made by young and old.
Menageries on your own mantelpiece!

The creatures you can make are manifold.
The size of your collection will increase.
What do you get from each when you unfold?
One coloured square!

As with the rondeau, there is a refrain - here "one coloured square" - which repeats the beginning of the first line. There are eleven lines in three stanzas, rhyming abaR; bab; abaR, where "R" denotes the refrain. The refrain will often rhyme with the "b" lines, but this is not obligatory and in the example above I have not done it.

Swinburne's original roundel was called simply Roundel, and had the refrain "A roundel is wrought". But he didn't stop there; he went on to write A Century of Roundels. Christina Rossetti wrote some, including Advent and For Each. I recently found a Spitfire Roundel by the Australian poet Les Murray in his book Dog Fox Field.

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Bob Newman 2005, 2006, 2007. All rights reserved.

This page last updated 03/01/2007