Humanities › Literature What Is a Rondeau in Poetry? 3 Stanzas and a Refrain Characterize This Poetic Form Share Flipboard Email Print Literature Poetry Poetic Forms Favorite Poems & Poets Best Sellers Classic Literature Plays & Drama Quotations Shakespeare Short Stories Children's Books By Bob Holman & Margery Snyder Poetry Experts B.A., English and American Literature, University of California at Santa Barbara B.A., English, Columbia College Bob Holman and Margery Snyder are nationally-recognized poets who have been featured on WNYC and NPR. our editorial process Bob Holman & Margery Snyder Updated March 18, 2017 The rondeau, like its cousin, the triolet, originated in the poems and songs of French troubadours of the 12th and 13th centuries. In the 14th century, poet-composer Guillaume de Machaut popularized the literary rondeau, which evolved to the use of a shorter repeated refrain than the earlier songs. Sir Thomas Wyatt, who is credited with bringing the sonnet into the English language in the 16th century, also experimented with the rondeau form. As it is used in modern English, the rondeau is a poem of 15 lines of eight or 10 syllables arranged in three stanzas — the first stanza is five lines (quintet), the second four lines (quatrain), and the final stanza six lines (sestet). The first part of the first line becomes the rondeau’s "rentrement," or refrain, when it is repeated as the last line of each of the two succeeding stanzas. Aside from the refrain, which obviously rhymes because it is the same repeated words, only two rhymes are used in the entire poem. The entire scheme looks like this (with “R” used to indicate the refrain). aabbaaabRaabbaR 'In Flanders Fields' Is a Rondeau John McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" from 1915 is a famous and sadly evocative poem of the horrors of World War I that is a clear example of a classic rondeau. Notice how "In Flanders fields," the first three words of the first line form the last line of the two subsequent stanzas and serve to make the central point repeatedly, to intense emotional effect. "In Flanders fields the poppies blowBetween the crosses, row on row,That mark our place; and in the skyThe larks, still bravely singing, flyScarce heard amid the guns below.We are the Dead. Short days agoWe lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,Loved and were loved, and now we lieIn Flanders fields.Take up our quarrel with the foe:To you from failing hands we throwThe torch; be yours to hold it high.If ye break faith with us who dieWe shall not sleep, though poppies growIn Flanders fields."