Background Notes to When We Make Love
I expect us to see quite a few of the poems of our collaboration exchanged using the rondeau form. We’ve already bounced several dozen between us in our private backstage room. I’ll jump in to be the first to share one out here at our open mic.
Of course I’d seen the form again in the lit class where I first met Denise. I’d had to write one for that class, then maybe tried my hand at another later, I can’t recall. Only after I had seen what Maggie had been doing with the form. Then Sara swept me away with a flood of exquisite rondeaux!
Lit class never got into the way the form works. We were told the rhyme structure and the way the repeated phrase works, of course, then pointed to the two most well-known rondeaux, then left on our own about how to write one. We’d been told how the Petrarchan sonnet’s rhyme demands made it more difficult for the English language’s relatively constrictive rhyme potentials, supposedly hence the emergence of the Shakespearian with what were alleged to be its looser demands. Yet nothing was said of how the rondeau is more demanding of its rhyming than the Petrarchan sonnet, arguably as demanding as a villanelle.
And nothing was said in the class of the unique twist of pairing the main rhyme with the repeated phrase in the final stanza, versus pairing that repeated phrase with the secondary rhyme in the middle stanza, versus having it lead off the first stanza. Part of what makes a rondeau a rondeau! Like catching me writing with Denise, then getting me to write with Maggie, after first sending me out to write on my own. Countless similar metaphors of how pairs can be seen in threes exist quite naturally, and even more can be imagined. No wonder the rondeau can be so addictive a form in which to write! Why do we not see more?
I’m still very much the rondeau novice. This one doesn’t employ some of the standard rondeau things. For instance, playing with three different meanings for the repeated phrase. I mean simply making love each of the three times, not even different ways of making love or different partners or different levels of intimacy, just plain making love. And my three stanzas don’t turn corners like the stanzas in some rondeaux do. I have pretty much one thing in mind throughout. But of course, even the most rigid form has variations to every standard. No two rondeaux need to follow the same set pattern on things like what I mention here. The difference being that better writers introduce variations because they have something particular in mind with the change. In my case here, I knew I did want to do this with a rondeau, but I simply didn’t have three different sides to my repeated phrase nor did I have any turns to take. In my case, that’s all it was. Nothing more practiced in the craft than that.
Obviously, written with Denise in mind. Although given the poem she posted before this, maybe I should pretend I wasn’t thinking about her at all while making love with her through this.