Monday, February 12, 2007


MB asked about rubonnets. Briefly, a rubonnet is an English sonnet, with the cross-rhymed quatrains replaced by rubaiys.


OK. The general formula for an Shakespearean sonnet is: abab cdcd efef gg

A quatrain is a four-line stanza. One that rhymes abab is called cross-rhymed. (The commonest alternative in English-language poetry is abba, called envelope or kissing rhyme.) A quatrain that rhymes aaba is called a rubaiy, rare in English but widespread in Persia and the Middle East-- maybe you've heard of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam? "Rubaiyat" just means a poem made of rubaiys.

So the general formula for a rubonnet is: aaba ccdc eefe gg

Now here's a twist: The Shakespearean sonnet is one of a large family of forms referred to as English sonnets (as opposed to Italian sonnets, which I won't go into right now). Another common English sonnet form is the Spenserian sonnet, which goes: abab bcbc cdcd ee

Notice that the rhymes in each quatrain refer back to the previous quatrain. By analogy, we have the "Spenserian rubonnet" or linked rubonnet: aaba bbcb ccdc ee

"Rain And Memory" is a linked rubonnet. "Rosemary For Remembrance" is a rubonnet, but not a linked one.

You can find more about English and Italian sonnets (but not rubonnets) at Vole Central's sonnet page.

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