The invention of bouts-rimés is attributed to a minor French poet of the 17th century named Dulot, of whom little else is remembered. (At least we remember him for something!) Bouts-rimés is literally French for “rhymed-ends”.
Dulot was complaining one day that he had been robbed of a number of valuable papers, and, in particular, of three hundred sonnets. Surprise being expressed at his having written so many, Dulot explained that they were all blank sonnets, that is to say, that he had put down the rhymes and nothing else. The idea struck everyone as amusing, and what Dulot had done seriously was taken up as a jest. They continued to be abundantly composed in France throughout the 17th century and a great part of the 18th century.
Poets, Sonneteers, and Comic Writers, take note! What a wonderful form to play with!
Here’s how we can have fun with this:
1. Add a list below of 14 rhyming words. Let’s be modern and use slant rhyme. And even if you think you’re not a poet, 14 words isn’t so much to ask!
Whether you intend to write a poem yourself of not, you’re welcome to contribute a list of words. Part of the fun of this excercise is in creating absurd word lists–and then trying to link them together in a poem. So go wild!
Some rhyme schemes to help you out:
- Shakespearean sonnet: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
- Spencerian sonnet: ABAB BCBC CDCD EE
- Italian sonnet: ABBA ABBA CDECDE (one of many patterns)
2. Take someone else’s list and write a poem to fit the words! Have fun, and please share it if you feel comfortable.
Here are some lists to get you started:
- orchid, provoke, livid, dovecote, bamboo, abide, amber, high, crank, mine, mountebank, nighttime, willow, tomorrow
- dog, rabbit, bone, rabid, habit, carrot, abbot, garret, wear it, hide, tear it, lied, truth, vermouth
- snow, sleep, heap, go, flow, creep, leap, woe, hope, strive, blanche, cope, live, avalanche