The Rondeau

The Rondeau originated in France. Its name and form derive from the French rondel, which comes from the French
rond ("round") and developed late in the13th century as it was usually set to music.

In a Rondeau, there are:
•         Usually eight syllables in each line,  except for the refrains, which have four syllables.
•         Two rhymes.
•         A refrain that repeats the first half (four syllables) of the first line.  The refrain can also be considered to be a
third rhyme.
•         For 15 lines, the lines are grouped into:
1 One quintet (5 lines rhyming a, a, b, b, a);
2 One quatrain (4 lines rhyming a, a, b, plus refrain R);
3 One sestet (6 lines rhyming a, a, b, b, plus refrain R);

•         Thus the pattern of line-repetition in a 15-line Rondeau is as follows. Here, "RRRR" represents the refrain of
repeated words (four syllables), "a" represents the first rhyme, and "b" represents the second first rhyme:

RRRR...    a-Opening line;the first words of the line('RRRR') become the refrain.    
a  - 2nd line uses 1st rhyme. b  - 3rd line introduces 2nd rhyme.
b  - 4th line uses 2nd rhyme.
a  - 5th line uses 1st rhyme and closes opening quintet stanza.

a  - 1st line of 2nd stanza uses 1st rhyme; the first 3 lines of the 2nd stanza rhyme in   the same pattern as the first 3
lines of the 1st stanza.
      a  - 2nd line uses 1st rhyme.
      b  - 3rd line uses 2nd rhyme.
RRRR  - 4th line repeats refrain of the opening line, and concludes the quatrain stanza.

a  - 1st line of 3rd stanza uses 1st rhyme; the first 5 lines of the 3rd stanza rhyme in  the same pattern as the first 5
lines of the 1st stanza.
    a  - 2nd line uses 1st rhyme.
    b  - 3rd line uses 2nd rhyme.
    b  - 4th line uses 2nd rhyme.
    a  - 5th line uses 1st rhyme.
RRRR  - 6th line repeats refrain of the opening line, and concludes the sestet stanza.

The rhyme and repetition in a Rondeau made this form popular with audiences. The form allowed the listener to
catch the poem more clearly at first hearing or first reading.

Steps:

1   First make a free-write or rough prose draft of a page or two, exploring what you want to say.
2   Look at the free-write for repetition  of words or phrases. That might give you some options for the
    for the opening four syllables, which will also be your refrain.
3   Look for rhyming words: you will need eight (8) 'a' rhymes  and five (5) 'b' rhymes, in addition to the
    refrain.
4  Enjambment is your friend, for a form like this with such  short lines and such insistent repetition.
    Enjambment occurs when the verse continues onto the next line.
5  It is sometimes easiest to write the central quatrain first.  Then you have established both the rhymes as
    well as the refrain.  Because you have reviewed your free-write, you will have picked  workable rhyming
    words.
6   Like packing an inflated helium balloon into a suitcase, tussle with modifying the repeated sentences to
    tug the poem into shape.
7   As with all formal poems nowadays, it is vital that the form does not "drive" your poem.  If the rhyme scheme
    and form begin to feel forced, then you must assert  the poem's content.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
         -John McCrae. 1872–1918