BJ’s Shadorma and Beyond – October 25, 2014

Roi de France Louis IX en mer vers Tunis.  Wikimedia.

Hello everyone!  What an honor it is to be able to join you as a guide at BJ’s Shadorma and Beyond!  My name is Jen, and I am visiting you from Blog It Or Lose It.  As Bastet announced last week, she and I will be alternating our weekly appearances here.

My task for today is to tempt you to write a Rondine – by using music!  For this week’s challenge, please watch and listen to “Saltarello” performed by Arany Zoltán.  (A saltarello is a 14th century Italian dance.)

Wow!  What a beautiful piece of music – and what a wealth of great (and sometimes amusing) medieval artwork. Do any of these images pique your interest?  You may also want simply to close your eyes and listen.  What images and emotions pop into view?  Do any of the instruments remind you of creatures – or customs – or people? Do you think of medieval banquets?  Do you feel joy?  Or mystery?  Or sadness?

Once you have some ideas you’re ready to write!


This week you have the option of writing a shadorma or a rondine (or both, if you like).


As you know, a shadorma is an unrhymed six-line poem with a syllable count of 3/5/3/3/7/5.  It can have as many stanzas as you like, so long as all of them follow the 3/5/3/3/7/5 pattern.


The rondine is closely modeled after a similar form called a rondeau – it’s just a bit shorter.  (The most famous rondeau is probably John McCrae’s “In Flanders’ Fields”.)

The rules are fairly simple.

1. There are twelve lines in three stanzas;

2. The rhyme scheme is abba / abR / abbaR;

3. “R” stands for “refrain”.  For the sake of this exercise, let’s say that your refrain will be the first four syllables of your first line of poetry. (For example, I once wrote a rondine with this first line:  “No one told her the box was cursed.”  The refrain, then, was “No one told her.”)

4. Lines should be about eight syllables long. (If your lines run around 7 or 9 syllables, though, don’t worry – don’t force your lines and make them sound awkward.)

5. The meter consists of iambic tetrameter for the main lines and iambic dimeter for the refrains. This sounds complicated but it’s not! It’s just a fancy way of saying your main lines sound like “da DA da DA da DA da DA” and your refrains sound like “da DA da DA”.   For example:

in FLANders FIELDS the POPpies BLOW

(But – as is the case with line length – don’t worry about meter if it makes your poem sound awkward.  Don’t force it.  And by all means – if meter makes you feel nervous – skip it this time around.  I did.)

If you’d like to see another example of a rondine in action, you can read one I posted on my blog, or you can also visit Vole Central. Also – feel free to ask questions.


Here is my rondine, color-coded, so you can make sense of the rhyme:

Piper, help me: my Lady grieves                         a (with R)
for her love, long gone in the East.                    b
With your joy slay the shadowed beast            b
that ‘round her heart a black veil weaves.        a

I cannot save her; her pain cleaves                    a
her mind and heart  – she can’t be reached.   b
Piper, help me!                                                           R

Fading daily like winter leaves –                        a
like dying swans whose souls are creased –   b
cheer her with dance, with song, with feast    b
before Death her torment relieves!                   a
Piper, help me!                                                           R


Once you’ve written your post please tag:  BJ’s Shadorma & Beyond and MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie, then put your info onto the Mr. Linky app.  If you ping us back, we’ll be able to read your post ASAP because we will be notified that you’ve written the post (not so with Mr. Linky).

Have fun!


  1. Reblogged this on Blog It or Lose It! and commented:

    Come try your hand at writing a Rondine! Listen to some medieval music, and share your thoughts! Today’s my first-ever post as a co-host (co-conspirator?) at BJ’s Shadorma & Beyond at MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie. Hope you like it!


  2. Yay! It’s here!
    I feel like Dr. Frankenstein, wringing my hands and giggling maniacally: “It’s alive! It’s alive!”


  3. Jen,
    Holy Moly! What a challenge- I think I have to wake up just a tad more for it though. I crashed at around 7pm last night, woke briefly then woke with the sunrise, which by the way is around 7am!

    There is a painting of a just a woman’s face in there… which reminds me of my sibling. But then being of Italian heritage… (I’ve been told I look like the Mona Lisa – yep same wonky smile).

    Just a few morning errands. Then I’ll attempt to play…


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