roundel

roundel (noun) (NB this glossary entry has been updated following helpful advice from Professor Mary-Jo Arn, to whom I am exceedingly grateful!)

This English term describes the form which is known in French as the chanson.  The form usually begins with a four-line stanza ABab, the first two lines of which are the poem’s refrain.  This stanza is followed by two further lines bc and then a repetition of the refrain AB.  There are then four more lines abba, followed by the repetition of the two-line refrain AB.  Lydgate uses this 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, and Charles d’Orleans writes English lyrics in this form which he calls ‘roundell’ or ‘rundell’ in his English writing and chanson in his French autograph manuscript.  Hoccleve, however, uses the term to refer to poems in the form of a rondeau tercet, also calling this form a ‘cha(u)nceon’.  Chaucer promises ‘a roundel’ at the end of his Parliament of Fowls, though we cannot tell what form this inset lyric took, as the lines which survive are unlikely to those written by Chaucer (on this see Ralph Hanna, Pursuing History, chap. 11)

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