The Not-So-Humble RondeauPart One: Whence the rondeau?The Not-So-Humble Rondeau9 years ago in Writing More Like This
The word rondeau means 'little circle' in French, and refers to the way these poems start and end with the same phrase. As a form of poetry and music, they've been around in some form since the 13th century; they've only managed to cross over into English verse sometime within the last two hundred and fifty years.
The term was originally applied to a form of courtly music noted for its strict two-rhyme scheme, as well as for using repetition most often of the entire first two lines as a refrain. A wide variety of fixed-verse constructions were originally classed as rondeaux; to this day, many of them have similar names: from the shortest (the rondelet and roundel) through the mid-length (the rondel and rondine) to the longest (the roundelay and rondeau redoblé).
As French poetry evolved, the rondeau found itself being adopted and adapted as a means of expressing