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                     Rhyme Royal

 "The principal seven-line stanza is rhyme royal, heroic
and rhyming ababbcc, used by Chaucer for 'Troilus and
' (O1.496/N52), by Wyatt (O1.621/N115),
by James I of Scotland for 'The Kingis Quair' (hence the
name), and by Auden for 'A Letter to Lord Byron' and
some of the stanzas in 'The Shield of Achilles' (N1372).
At its best rhyme royal can balance readings of it as a 
tercet and two couplets (aba-bb-cc) or as a quatrain and
a tercet (abab-bcc): in narrative the balance between
these readings fuses narration (associated with quatrains)
with moral commentary (associated with the summary
epigrammatism of couplets) to produce morally charged

(The Poetry Handbook, John Lennard, Oxford University
Press, New York NY.)

rhyme royal, that form of verse which consists of stanzas
of seven ten-syllable lines, riming (sic) a b a b b c c."

1841 Latham Eng. Lang. 381. 1873 H. Morley Eng. Lit. v,
Chaucer's own seven-lined stanza, which has been called
rhyme royal, because this particular disciple [sc. James I
of Scotland
] used it. 1903 Q. Rev. Apr. 454 Gower's
rhyme-royal is not inferior to Chaucer's in any formal respect.

(Oxford English Dictionary © 2000 Oxford University Press.)

Here are excerpts from a few poems referenced above:

From Troilus and Criseide
Cantus Troli

"If no love is, O God, what feele I so?
And if love is, what thing and which is he?
If love be good, from whennes cometh my wo?
If it be wikke, a wonder thinketh me,
Whan every torment and adversitee
That cometh of him may to me savory thinke,
For ay thurste I, the more that ich it drinke.

(Geoffrey Chaucer, N52, first stanza)

From They Flee from Me

They flee from me that sometime did me seek
  With naked foot stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle tame and meek
  That now are wild and do not remember
  That sometime they put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range
Busily seeking with a continual change.

(Thomas Wyatt, N115, first stanza)

From The Shield of Achilles

A plain without a feature, bare and brown,
  No blade of grass, no sign of neighbourhood,
Nothing to eat and nowhere to sit down,
  Yet, congregated on its blankness, stood
  An unintelligible multitude,
A million eyes, a million boots in line,
Without expression, waiting for a sign.

(W. H. Auden , N1372, second stanza)

Editor's note:  Notice the similarity between the second two
examples.  However, Auden uses the rhyme royal between
8-lined stanzas that break up the monotony that might result
from a continuous string of rhyme royal stanzas.  To counter
the patterned effect of the rhyme royal, Auden's 8-lined stanzas
are similar to one another only because they each end with a
single-rhyme1 quatrain (abcb); the first quatrains of each
8-lined stanza vary in their rhyme scheme.  
The poem's construction is as follows:

               8-line stanza
               rhyme royal
               rhyme royal
               8-line stanza
               rhyme royal
               rhyme royal
               8-line stanza
               rhyme royal

(Kevin Sorbello, NPPress)

1 "Quatrains in which only two lines rhyme (abac or abcb)
have no agreed name, but may be called single-rhymed."
(The Poetry Handbook, John Lennard, Oxford University
Press, New York NY.)

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Kenning             Gongorism
Makari               Macaronic
Clerihew             Sestina
Grue                Hudibrastic
Verse               Catalectic
Carmen Figuraturum

Terza Rima      Pantoum  

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