Originating in France, the rondeau is a three-stanza poem consisting of approximately ten to fifteen lines total, generally with either eight syllables per line or ten. Its distinctive features are the use of only two rhymes throughout the entire poem and a half-line refrain which begins the first stanza’s first line and forms the entirety of the second and third stanza’s last lines. The rhyme scheme, of course, varies with the number of lines; a typical rhyme scheme for a fifteen-line rondeau is aabba aabC aabbaC, where C represents the first half of the rondeau’s first line. The refrain does not rhyme with anything else in the poem.

For example:



You give your love to one unwise
I have ignored your faithful sighs –
I know you can’t be unaware
Of days when I seem not to care –
I’ve stilled your tongue with pleasant lies.

But in the hours that banter buys
I see the lonely girl who cries
The heart that empty words can tear –
You give your love.

The ancient logic still applies:
The sapling in the winter dies.
How often, if I’d just been there
To run my fingers through your hair
Yet still it lingers in your eyes –
You give your love!

The rondeau has spawned several other very similar forms, including the rondel, roundel, rondelet, and rondine.