NaPoWriMo 2011 Poem and Prompt for April 13, 2011 13/30

April 13, 2011

Welcome to day 13 of the 30 days of NaPoWrimo where many poets are writing a poem a day, each and every day in celebration of National Poetry Month.   Tonight I get to host a gathering of poets at Park Place Books in Kirkland including an open mic.  Come on out if you are able and perhaps read a few of your NaPoWrimo concoctions.


Today’s subject is the sea

Today’s form is the rhyme royal stanza an iambic pentameter form favored by Chaucer and used by Shakespeare and many others but now rarely used.   It has a rhyming pattern and most importantly the five beats of iambic pentameter (The rules are described below).


Teresa and Chris’ Rhyme Royal April 13, 2011


An island rises bold to touch the sun

Shy, peeks behind chameleon clouds; drifts by

From shoal to beach does the water run

Rip tides push, pull lost lone whale cry

Sails and gulls line horizon sky

Island slopes into the sea; tall tree

Yearn to float away tot’lly free.


The rhyme royal stanza consists of seven lines, usually in iambic pentameter. The rhyme scheme is  often a-b-a-b-b-c-c.    The stanza can be constructed either as a as a terza rima and two couplets (a-b-a, b-b, c-c) or a quatrain 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 poems; and along with the couplet, it was the standard narrative metre in the late Middle Ages.


Chaucer  used the rhyme royal stanza in his long poems Troilus and Criseyde and Parlement of Foules. 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..


James I of Scotland used rhyme royal for his Chaucerian poem The Kingis Quair, 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 used the stanza for many of his occasional and love poems. The Scottish poet Robert Henryson consistently used the stanza throughout his two longest works, the Morall Fabillis and Testament of Cresseid, while the anonymous The Flower and the Leaf is another early use of the form. In the 16th century Thomas Wyatt used it in his poem They flee from me that sometime did me seek, Thomas Sackville in the Induction to The Mirror for Magistrates, Alexander Barclay in his Ship of Fools and Stephen Hawes 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 in The Rape of Lucrece.  Edmund Spenser wrote his Hymn of Heavenly Beauty using rhyme royal but he also derived his own Spenserian stanza 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”, and notable twentieth-century poems in the stanza are W. H. Auden’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.

edit] Some examples


The three examples below are each from a different century. The first, one of the earliest from Chaucer composed in the 14th century;  the second from 15th century Scotland,  the third from Thomas Wyatt in the 16th century …modernized.


* Opening stanza of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde:


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, thou help me for tendyte

Thise woful vers, that wepen as I wryt


* Example from Henryson’s Testament of Cresseid, in a stanza which describes the god Saturn hailing from an extremely cold realm:


His face fronsit, his lyre was lyke the leid,

His teith chatterit and cheverit with the chin,

His ene drowpit, how sonkin in his heid,

Out of his nois the meldrop fast can rin,

With lippis bla and cheikis leine and thin;

The ice-schoklis that fra his hair doun hang

Was wonder greit and as ane speir als lang.


* 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.


Keep Writing….


Remember you do not HAVE to follow any prompt or do any FORM…. Just write a poem every day you are able during the month of April.  Share it with others.  Writing and sharing poems so quickly without many rewrites and several weeks or months of tinkering is a humbling experience.  It’s good for you !!!


Poetry is Everything

© 2011


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