April 27, 2014

Just seven verses rhymed on two

      A rondelet
Is just seven verses rhymed on two.
      A rondelet
      Is an old jewel quaintly set
In poesy—a drop of dew
Caught in a roseleaf. Lo! for you,
      A rondelet.

Charles Henry Lüders published the above poem in the April 27, 1889 issue of the Boston based newspaper The Literary World. The poem, titled "Rondelet," was an accurate description and example of that French poetic form. The term literally translates to "short poem with a refrain," as is seen in lines 1, 3, and 7.

Lüders was a Philadelphia based poet born in 1858. It was only in the last few years of his life, however, that he began contributing to periodicals and some recognized him as one of the most promising up-and-coming poets in the United States. He died, however, less than two years after publishing his rondelet. He was remembered for his humility, his genial nature, and his distrust of the value of his own writing. His only collection of poetry was published after his death by his friends. That collection did not include "Rondelet." The book did publish several even shorter poems, a series of nine quatrains (four lines each), including "Elusion":

How much that we at first intend
Escapes us ere we reach the end.
At the White City's outer walls
The weary pilgrim faints and falls.

And, to conclude with a relatable quote, his short story "The Lost Elixir" begins:

I am very fond of books; old books in particular; not that I have ever attempted to pose as a bibliophile, but simply that I like to loiter in second-hand book-stores and libraries, looking over one old volume after another until my eyes ache and my fingers are begrimed with dust and decay.

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