chanson

chanson (noun); also ‘cha(u)nceon’ (NB this glossary entry has been updated following very helpful advice from Professor Mary-Jo Arn, to whom I am very grateful)

This French term, naming a variation on the rondeau, describes the form which becomes known as a roundel in Middle English.  The chanson/roundel usually begins with a four-line stanza ABab, of which the first two lines are the poem’s refrain.  This is then followed by two further lines bc and the two lines of the refrain AB.  There are then four more lines abba, followed by the repetition of the refrain AB.  Charles d’Orleans calls this form ‘rundell’ and ‘roundell’ in his English writing and chanson in his French autograph manuscript.  Lydgate uses the French chanson form for the roundel in his version of Henry VI’s Triumphal Entry into London and for a roundel in celebration of Henry VI’s coronation.  Hoccleve however uses the term ‘cha(u)nceon’  to refer to poems in the form of a rondeau tercet, also referring to them by the term ‘rowndel’.

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