Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thursday Poetry form Week 26: A Repost on Bouts-Rimes

I am still (or once again) CC Champagne and I am still (or once again) trying to, with your help, make heads or tails of some poetry forms here in The Gooseberry Gardens on Thursdays. Take a load off, pull up a blanket, unpack your picnic basket and let's get started.

As we already established last week (and I'm sure many of you already knew) Poetry Forms deal with the various sets of 'rules' poems of certain types follow. These rules may describe the rhythm or meter of the poem, its rhyme scheme or a specific use of alliteration. Personally I see these rules, the forms, as tools rather than laws to strictly adhere to, but that might be because I just don't know enough about them. I am, by my own admission, the worst possible person to try to teach about these things, so let's just see how far we get together, OK? Comments are very welcome!

Since I'm trying to start at the bottom and work my way up to the really scary forms (sonnets, haiku and the like), I thought we could continue with something fun and as unknown as the anacreontic verse we looked at last week, but still something many of us - in a way - do when we participate in various prompting memes in the blogosphere: Bouts-Rimé.

I assume not all of you speak or read French (my French is trés rusty, so I consulted a translator to be sure), Bouts-Rimé is French for rhymed ends and this is precisely what it is about.

A Bouts-Rimé was originally in high fashion towards the middle of the 17th century, a poetic game the invention of which is attributed to poet Dulot, who in 1648 complained to his friends that a large number of his sonnets had been stolen. When his friends expressed astonishment - not so much at the theft, but at the number of sonnets stolen and how Dulot could possibly have composed as many, Dulot admitted that he hadn't actually written them all yet, but that he had sorted out the end rhymes for them. This is, according to legend, how the bouts-rimé poetic form came to be.

A, rather famous (or at least often found) example of a Bouts-Rimé is using the rhyme scheme: breeze, elephant, squeeze, pant, scant, please, hope and pope, the following stanza (poetic paragraph) is the result:

Escaping from the Indian breeze,
The vast, sententious elephant
Through groves of sandal loves to squeeze
And in their fragrant shade to pant;
Although the shelter there be scant,
The vivid odours soothe and please,
And while he yields to dreams of hope,
Adoring beasts surround their Pope.

As an actual game - or inspiration for your own Bouts-Rimé - you would need to list various rhyming words on a piece of paper, cut the paper up to leave just one word on each piece, mix the pieces up and then try to make a working poem with full sentences out of the words you draw from the mix. Since the 'form' of the era when this game was invented was the sonnet, the original game calls for the construction of such, but why not do it your own way?

You could also ask one of your poetically inclined friends to provide you with a few words and then set about turning them into poems? In fact, Alexander Dumas (The Elder) did something similar in 1864 when he issued an invitation to all poets of France to compose a Bouts-Rimé based on a set of rhymes selected by poet Joseph Méry. 350 poets responded and a book containing the poems was later on published.

Until next week! *cheers*