Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Writing Exercise

Writing Exercise – the rondeau
 By Ashley Lister

 This month I wanted to work with the rondeau. The reason why I wanted to tackle the rondeau this month is because arguably the most famous example of the rondeau is ‘In Flanders Fields’ by Canadian army physician, and poet, Lieutenant John McCrae. ‘In Flanders Fields’ is a poem we hear often during this month of remembrance and it seemed apposite to consider the structure that supports this great work.  

The rondeau is a form of French poetry with 15 lines and a fixed, distinctive rhyme scheme.  The rondeau also makes use of refrains, which are repeated according to the stylized pattern.

The rhyme scheme for the rondeau is: a a b b a  a a b C  a a b b a C, where a and b are the end rhymes and C is the refrain. 

Technically each line of the rondeau should consist of eight syllables (except for the refrains which are half lines of four syllables).  Ideally, the poem should be laid out in three stanzas and the refrain should be identical to the beginning of the first line.

All of which is easier to illustrate with an example.

I slash the strap across your back
And thrill to hear the brisk wet smack
When leather strikes unbroken skin
And you beg me to push deep in
To tight confines within your crack

And beg for a more forceful whack
Whilst reaching back to clutch my sac
You’re shrieking with a sated grin
I slash the strap

The pinwheel left a pretty track
The paddle’s bruises ne’er turned black
But stripes of leather suit this sin
You tell me this one’s for the win
And urge more force in my attack
I slash the strap

Fifteen lines of rhyming poetry will always be a challenge, especially when you’re expected to find a refrain and use only two rhymes. The main challenge is finding something to say that bears repeating. I was fortunate here that the phrase ‘I slash the strap’ has a hypnotic rhythm and seems to work within the context of sexual punishment.

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


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Let's try this again. All spelling and grammatical errors have been put there by an evil twin poster as I'd never make such an error m'self.

    He slid his thumb across my lips.
    I trembled, falling off that cliff
    of desire taken by surprise.
    His slow movement - torture, devised
    to pull me forward, make me trip

    into lust with him and eclipse
    what I knew of myself. He dips
    his thumb into my mouth, unwise
    as that may be, I only nipped.
    He slid his thumb

    against my tongue. I sucked. He slipped
    it out, so wet, and rubbed the tip
    of my capricious cock. Levis
    taut, I'd popped buttons from the fly.
    He grabbed my ass with a firm grip.
    He slid his thumb...

  3. Oh, Nettie! This is brilliant! You took me totally by surprise with "capricious cock". And the rhyme of 'eclipse' and 'dips' - unexpected and yet inevitable, as poetry should be!

  4. Why thank you so much for reading & commenting, Lisabet. I was surprised I could actually finish this piece.
    best wishes

  5. Nettie - thank you for rising to the challenge on this one. It's a restrictive format but, through enjambment and your natural talent, you've managed to work in some pretty stylish lines. solid rhyming, clever use of assonance on the second line, and (as Lisabet noted) the surprise of discovering that this is homoerotic poetry is cleverly placed in the third stanza.

    Damned good poetry.


    1. Thank you for your kind comments, Ash. I'm back from blushing now.

  6. Here's mine. Far more cerebral than Nettie's but I believe it fits the form.

    By Lisabet Sarai

    My hands are tied, but were I free
    I'd suck your cock and sip your pee;
    I'd spread my lips so you could sense
    the aromatic evidence
    of what your voice can do to me.

    My flesh and heart in heat agree.
    Unlock them both; you hold the key
    to joy and anguish, both intense.
    My hands are tied.

    You think me lost. Why can't you see?
    If you should claim the whole of me
    as yours, I'd offer no defense.
    But you're a gentleman, and hence,
    my ring makes all this fantasy.
    My hands are tied.

  7. That four beat refrain is so clever: the combination of the erotically physical related to the pragmatically metaphoric.

    I'm also impressed (jealous) of the way arrhythmic was you've used your caesura in the final stanza. The balance is meticulous. Quality poetry.


    1. What? "the arrhythmic way you've used your caesura"? Speak English, Ashley! ;^)

      But of course I'm glad you like it. As I've said before, I'm not sure I even believe this is poetry, but it's an enjoyable challenge.

  8. Breathplay Rondeau

    You hold your breath, I count to three
    and make you give it back to me
    I clamp my lips against your own
    my skin to yours, my flesh and bone
    connected to you ardently
    breathe out again despite your plea
    for air carbon dioxide free
    (though wordless, I can hear you moan)
    You hold your breath.
    The lure of this activity
    in skirting our mortality
    to bring us to a mutual zone
    hypoxic in progesterone
    my will to yours becomes the key.
    You hold your breath

  9. Nettie: Utterly awed. I am such a sucker for a good enjambment.
    Lisabet: What a delight, but so chaste at the end!

    Ashey: Marvellous. So good I almost didn't even attempt a rejoinder!

    1. You got the words 'hypoxic' and 'progesterone' in a poem without interrupting the scansion or upsetting the flow.

      Damn but you're good. I've missed you these past couple of months. Hope everything is OK.


    2. Thanks Ash :)
      I'm good, thanks. Not sure how or why I missed the last couple. I'm usually more diligent. I might have been on holiday, I think.


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