Writing Exercise – the rondelet

by | December 6, 2014 | Writing Exercise | 14 comments

 by Ashley Lister

 The rondelet is a French form of poetry consisting of seven
lines.  The rhyme scheme is: A b A a b b
A, where each capital A is a refrain line with four syllables, and every other
line contains eight syllables. To illustrate:

Your cheeks are red

As though you’ve guessed my idea

Your cheeks are red

And there you lay across my bed

Holding up your cheeky rear

Shivering with shame-thrilled fear 

Your cheeks are red

I have to admit I’m a huge fan of the rondelet’s form.  Refrains are always a fun device in poetry,
making your reader/audience reconsider a sentiment from a different perspective,
or reiterating a point so that the weight of its importance can be
stressed.  The simple rhyme and metrical
pattern make it an easy form to use at the start of any writing session, just
to help limber up writing muscles.  Here’s

It’s Christmas time 

A time when couples get to screw 

It’s Christmas time

And whilst I’m writing you this rhyme

I trust you know this much is true

I just can’t wait to be with you

It’s Christmas time

As always, I look forward to seeing your poetry in the
comments box below. 

Ashley Lister

Ashley Lister is a UK author responsible for more than two-dozen erotic novels written under a variety of pseudonyms. His most recent work, a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his second title published under his own name: Swingers: Female Confidential by Ashley Lister (Virgin Books; ISBN: 0753513439) Ashley’s non-fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Forum, Chapter & Verse and The International Journal of Erotica. Nexus, Chimera and Silver Moon have published his full-length fiction, with shorter stories appearing in anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Mitzi Szereto. He is very proud to be a regular contributor to ERWA.


  1. Lisabet Sarai

    Hi, Ashley,

    In your first example, I can't get 8 syllables out of "As though you've guessed my idea" – unless you pronounce "guessed" as two syllables?

  2. Lisabet Sarai

    (Rondelet. 12 Dec 2014)

    By Lisabet Sarai

    The light returns,
    this season of renewing ties.
    The light returns.
    The ropes wind tight, the candle burns
    bright arabesques between my thighs.
    You knot the silk across my eyes;
    the light returns.

    • Rachel Green

      Holy crap, I love this one. Beautiful images

    • Lisabet Sarai

      Thank you, Rachel! Praise from an amazing poet like you is precious.

  3. Ashley Lister

    Lisabet – love Solstice. It's a wonderful blend of the spiritual and the sensual (which are themes that fit so well with your writing). 'bright arabesques between my thighs' is a clever use of words that brings this to life.

    As for my poem: I pronounce 'idea' as three syllables: EYE-DEE-AHH, is that where the confusion was arising?

  4. Lisabet Sarai

    Thanks, Ashley. Your exercises inspire me.

    "Idea" has three syllables? I guess that solves the problem ;^)

  5. Rachel Green

    catching your breath
    my mouth over yours as you cry
    catching your breath
    fifteen heartbeats closer to death
    a tap of your hand to untie
    then weeping and sobbing, you sigh
    catching your breath

    • Lisabet Sarai

      Rachel! I was about to say that this was breath-taking… then I kicked myself….

      Amazing poem.

      I like the brevity of this form very much.

    • Rachel Green

      Thanks Lisabet

  6. Ashley Lister

    Rachel – love this one. The refrain is hypnotic and then content is v powerful.

    Can't wait to read more of your poetry in 2015 🙂

  7. Rachel Green

    Thanks, Ashley. The form was harder than I expected!

  8. Lisabet Sarai

    Interesting observation. We're doing flash fiction this fortnight over at the Grip. I used to find flashers agonizingly difficult. However, I think that this practice with brief and strongly structured poetic forms has made writing flash fiction much easier for me.

    Thanks, Ashley!

  9. Jean Roberta

    Marvelous little gems, Ashley, Lisabet, and Rachel. Fairly short, repetitive poems suit the intentise, transitory nature of sensual experience.

  10. Ashley Lister

    Jean – thank you. 🙂

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