The rondeau redoublé is not an easy form to write. It uses only two rhymes throughout, repeats whole lines, and has an awkward repeated half-line at the end. Let's look at an example. This one was written shortly after the Omagh bomb. A lady from that unfortunate town, interviewed by a TV reporter, asked "If this is peace, what's war?"
If this is peace then what, I ask, is war? What difference does it make to folk like me? We've heard it all, and suffered it, before. Is this the way it always has to be? How many years before this island's free Of violence and death, of blood and gore? What do we have to do to make them see? If this is peace then what, I ask, is war? The priests and politicians all deplore The bombing, and appeal for unity. I want to know, what's that Agreement for? What difference does it make to folk like me? Much good it's done us that they all “agree”! Some haven't stopped the killing they foreswore, Death haunts our streets, and truth’s a refugee. We've heard it all, and suffered it, before. Does Irish air bring out some fatal flaw, A latent fault in all humanity? Must troubles mar our lives for evermore? Is this the way it always has to be? What's done is done, and no-one can restore This bomb-scarred town to what it used to be. So is jaw-jaw much better than war-war? There’s not much in it, far as I can see, If this is peace.
The first stanza is the key to the whole poem. Its four lines reappear in turn as the final lines of the next four stanzas, and the first part of the first line reappears again as the half-line at the very end. Each stanza rhymes either abab or baba. For the sixth stanza, either is possible.
To write one of these, start with the final half-line, then do the opening stanza, and you're half-way there.
The blessed Malcovati, curse him, tells us that one of the two rhyme groups in a rondeau redoublé must be masculine and the other feminine. (The example he gives appears not to satisfy this rule - or perhaps my French is not good enough to appreciate the way in which it does.) Anyway, if he is to be believed - and he usually is - the above is not a true example of the form after all. It still seems good enough to me, though.
Take away the sixth stanza and the final half-line, and you've got a glose.
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This page last updated 08/01/2007