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Rhyme royal

Rhyme royal

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Encyclopedia
Rhyme royal is a rhyming
Rhyme
A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more words and is most often used in poetry and songs. The word "rhyme" may also refer to a short poem, such as a rhyming couplet or other brief rhyming poem such as nursery rhymes.-Etymology:...

 stanza
Stanza
In poetry, a stanza is a unit within a larger poem. In modern poetry, the term is often equivalent with strophe; in popular vocal music, a stanza is typically referred to as a "verse"...

 form that was introduced into English
English literature
English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, J....

 poetry by Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer , known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey...

.

Form


The rhyme royal stanza consists of seven lines, usually in iambic pentameter
Iambic pentameter
Iambic pentameter is a commonly used metrical line in traditional verse and verse drama. The term describes the particular rhythm that the words establish in that line. That rhythm is measured in small groups of syllables; these small groups of syllables are called "feet"...

. The rhyme scheme is a-b-a-b-b-c-c. In practice, the stanza can be constructed either as a terza rima
Terza rima
Terza rima is a rhyming verse stanza form that consists of an interlocking three-line rhyme scheme. It was first used by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri.-Form:Terza rima is a three-line stanza using chain rhyme in the pattern A-B-A, B-C-B, C-D-C, D-E-D...

 and two couplet
Couplet
A couplet is a pair of lines of meter in poetry. It usually consists of two lines that rhyme and have the same meter.While traditionally couplets rhyme, not all do. A poem may use white space to mark out couplets if they do not rhyme. Couplets with a meter of iambic pentameter are called heroic...

s (a-b-a, b-b, c-c) or a quatrain
Quatrain
A quatrain is a stanza, or a complete poem, consisting of four lines of verse. Existing in various forms, the quatrain appears in poems from the poetic traditions of various ancient civilizations including Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and China; and, continues into the 21st century, where it is...

 and a tercet (a-b-a-b, b-c-c). This allows for a good deal of variety, especially when the form is used for longer narrative
Narrative poetry
Narrative poetry is poetry that has a plot. The poems that make up this genre may be short or long, and the story it relates to may be simple or complex. It is usually nondramatic, with objective regular scheme and meter. Narrative poems include epics, ballads, idylls and lays.Some narrative...

 poems; and along with the couplet, it was the standard narrative metre in the late Middle Ages.

History


Chaucer first used the rhyme royal stanza in his long poems Troilus and Criseyde
Troilus and Criseyde
Troilus and Criseyde is a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer which re-tells in Middle English the tragic story of the lovers Troilus and Criseyde set against a backdrop of war in the Siege of Troy. It was composed using rime royale and probably completed during the mid 1380s. Many Chaucer scholars regard it...

and Parlement of Foules
Parlement of Foules
The "Parlement of Foules" is a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer made up of approximately 700 lines. The poem is in the form of a dream vision in rhyme royal stanza and is interesting in that it is the first reference to the idea that St...

. He also used it for four of the Canterbury Tales, the Man of Law's Tale, the Prioress' Tale, the Clerk's Tale, and the Second Nun's Tale, and in a number of shorter lyrics. He may have adapted the form from a French
French literature
French literature is, generally speaking, literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens of France; it may also refer to literature written by people living in France who speak traditional languages of France other than French. Literature written in French language, by citizens...

 ballade
Ballade
The ballade is a form of French poetry. It was one of the three formes fixes and one of the verse forms in France most commonly set to music between the late 13th and the 15th centuries....

 stanza or from the Italian
Italian literature
Italian literature is literature written in the Italian language, particularly within Italy. It may also refer to literature written by Italians or in Italy in other languages spoken in Italy, often languages that are closely related to modern Italian....

 Ottava rima
Ottava rima
Ottava rima is a rhyming stanza form of Italian origin. Originally used for long poems on heroic themes, it later came to be popular in the writing of mock-heroic works. Its earliest known use is in the writings of Giovanni Boccaccio....

, with the omission of the fifth line.

James I of Scotland
James I of Scotland
James I, King of Scots , was the son of Robert III and Annabella Drummond. He was probably born in late July 1394 in Dunfermline as youngest of three sons...

 used rhyme royal for his Chaucerian poem The Kingis Quair
The Kingis Quair
The Kingis Quair is a fifteenth-century poem attributed to James I of Scotland. It is semi-autobiographical in nature, describing the King's capture by the English in 1406 on his way to France and his subsequent imprisonment by Henry IV of England and his successors, Henry V and Henry VI...

, and it is believed that the name of the stanza derives from this royal use. English and Scottish poets were greatly influenced by Chaucer in the century after his death and most made use of the form in at least some of their works. John Lydgate
John Lydgate
John Lydgate of Bury was a monk and poet, born in Lidgate, Suffolk, England.Lydgate is at once a greater and a lesser poet than John Gower. He is a greater poet because of his greater range and force; he has a much more powerful machine at his command. The sheer bulk of Lydgate's poetic output is...

 used the stanza for many of his occasional and love poems. The Scottish poet Robert Henryson
Robert Henryson
Robert Henryson was a poet who flourished in Scotland in the period c. 1460–1500. Counted among the Scots makars, he lived in the royal burgh of Dunfermline and is a distinctive voice in the Northern Renaissance at a time when the culture was on a cusp between medieval and renaissance sensibilities...

 consistently used the stanza throughout his two longest works, the Morall Fabillis and Testament of Cresseid, while the anonymous The Flower and the Leaf
The Floure and the Leafe
"The Floure and the Leafe", is an anonymous Middle English allegorical poem in 595 lines of rhyme royal, written around 1470. During the 17th, 18th, and most of the 19th century it was mistakenly believed to be the work of Geoffrey Chaucer, and was generally considered to be one of his finest poems...

is another early use of the form. In the 16th century Thomas Wyatt
Thomas Wyatt (poet)
Sir Thomas Wyatt was a 16th-century English lyrical poet credited with introducing the sonnet into English. He was born at Allington Castle, near Maidstone in Kent – though his family was originally from Yorkshire...

 used it in his poem They flee from me that sometime did me seek, Thomas Sackville
Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset
Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset was an English statesman, poet, dramatist and Freemason. He was the son of Richard Sackville, a cousin to Anne Boleyn. He was a Member of Parliament and Lord High Treasurer.-Biography:...

 in the Induction to The Mirror for Magistrates, Alexander Barclay
Alexander Barclay
Dr Alexander Barclay was an English/Scottish poet.-Biography:Barclay was born in about 1476. His place of birth is matter of dispute, but William Bulleyn, who was a native of Ely, and probably knew him when he was in the monastery there, asserts that he was born "beyonde the cold river of Twede"...

 in his Ship of Fools and Stephen Hawes
Stephen Hawes
Stephen Hawes was a popular English poet during the Tudor period who is now little known. He was probably born in Suffolk owing to the commonness of the name in that area and, if his own statement of his age may be trusted, was born about 1474. It has been suggested that he was an illegitimate...

 in his Pastime of Pleasure.

The seven-line stanza began to go out of fashion during the Elizabethan era but it was still used by John Davys in Orchestra and by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 in The Rape of Lucrece
The Rape of Lucrece
The Rape of Lucrece is a narrative poem by William Shakespeare about the legendary Lucretia. In his previous narrative poem, Venus and Adonis , Shakespeare had included a dedicatory letter to his patron, the Earl of Southampton, in which he promised to write a "graver work"...

. Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and one of the greatest poets in the English...

 wrote his Hymn of Heavenly Beauty using rhyme royal but he also derived his own Spenserian stanza
Spenserian stanza
The Spenserian stanza is a fixed verse form invented by Edmund Spenser for his epic poem The Faerie Queene. Each stanza contains nine lines in total: eight lines in iambic pentameter followed by a single 'Alexandrine' line in iambic hexameter. The rhyme scheme of these lines is...

 with the rhyme scheme a-b-a-b-b-c-b-c-c partly by adapting rhyme royal. Like many stanzaic forms, rhyme royal fell out of fashion during the Restoration, and has never been widely used since. However, William Wordsworth employed rhyme royal (slightly modified by an alexandrine in the seventh line) in "Resolution and Independence
Resolution and Independence
"Resolution and Independence" is a lyric poem by the English romantic poet William Wordsworth, composed in 1802 and published in 1807 in Poems in Two Volumes...

", and notable twentieth-century poems in the stanza are W. H. Auden
W. H. Auden
Wystan Hugh Auden , who published as W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet,The first definition of "Anglo-American" in the OED is: "Of, belonging to, or involving both England and America." See also the definition "English in origin or birth, American by settlement or citizenship" in See also...

's Letter to Lord Byron (as well as some of the stanzas in The Shield of Achilles) and W. B. Yeats's A Bronze Head.

Some examples


The three examples below are each from a different century. The first, composed in the 14th century, is from Chaucer and if, as some scholars believe, it is one of his earliest poems, then it is possibly the first manifestation of the form in English. The second example is from 15th century Scotland where the stanza was very widely taken up and developed. The last, from Thomas Wyatt, is a 16th century illustration of the form (modernised).
  • Opening stanza of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde
    Troilus and Criseyde
    Troilus and Criseyde is a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer which re-tells in Middle English the tragic story of the lovers Troilus and Criseyde set against a backdrop of war in the Siege of Troy. It was composed using rime royale and probably completed during the mid 1380s. Many Chaucer scholars regard it...

    :

The double sorwe of Troilus to tellen,
That was the king Priamus sone of Troye,
In lovinge, how his aventures fellen
Fro wo to wele, and after out of Ioye,
My purpos is, er that I parte fro ye,
Thesiphone
Tisiphone
Tisiphone is the name of two figures in Greek mythology.-Erinyes:Tisiphone was one of the Erinyes or Furies, and sister of Alecto and Megaera. She was the one who punished crimes of murder: parricide, fratricide and homicide...

, thou help me for tendyte
Composition (language)
The term composition , in written language, refers to the collective body of important features established by the author in their creation of literature...

Thise woful vers, that wepen as I wryt

  • Example from Henryson's Testament of Cresseid, in a stanza which describes the god Saturn
    Saturn (mythology)
    In ancient Roman religion and myth, Saturn was a major god presiding over agriculture and the harvest time. His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of abundance and peace by many Roman authors. In medieval times he was known as the Roman god of agriculture, justice and strength. He held a sickle in...

     hailing from an extremely cold realm:

His face fronsit
Wrinkle
A wrinkle is a fold, ridge or crease in the skin. Skin wrinkles typically appear as a result of aging processes such as glycation or, temporarily, as the result of prolonged immersion in water. Wrinkling in the skin is caused by habitual facial expressions, aging, sun damage, smoking, poor...

, his lyre
Complexion
Complexion refers to the natural color, texture, and appearance of the skin, especially that of the face.-History:The word "complexion" is derived from the Late Latin complexi, which initially referred in general terms to a combination of things, and later in physiological terms, to the balance of...

 was lyke the leid
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

,
His teith chatterit and cheverit with the chin,
His ene drowpit, how sonkin in his heid,
Out of his nois the meldrop
Mucus
In vertebrates, mucus is a slippery secretion produced by, and covering, mucous membranes. Mucous fluid is typically produced from mucous cells found in mucous glands. Mucous cells secrete products that are rich in glycoproteins and water. Mucous fluid may also originate from mixed glands, which...

 fast can rin,
With lippis bla
Paleness (color)
Paleness of color is the property of being a light or pastel version of another color of the same hue. The paler color has higher luminance, and lower chrominance ....

 and cheikis leine and thin;
The ice-schoklis that fra his hair doun hang
Was wonder greit and as ane speir
Spear
A spear is a pole weapon consisting of a shaft, usually of wood, with a pointed head.The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with bamboo spears, or it may be made of a more durable material fastened to the shaft, such as flint, obsidian, iron, steel or...

 als lang
Length
In geometric measurements, length most commonly refers to the longest dimension of an object.In certain contexts, the term "length" is reserved for a certain dimension of an object along which the length is measured. For example it is possible to cut a length of a wire which is shorter than wire...

.

  • Opening to Thomas Wyatt's rhyme royal poem:

They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themself in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.

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