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Hello poets, Gayle here from Bodhirose’s Blog, with a revisit to a fun form that Tony Maude first introduced to us a couple of years back for Meeting the Bar.

Bouts-Rimés (pronounced Boo-ReeMay) is French for “rhymed ends” and was the name given to a rhyming game that was formulated by an obscure French poet named Dulot from the 17th century.  Not much else is known about him.

According to “Menagiana,” published in 1693 France, around the year 1648 Dulot complained that 300 of his sonnets had been stolen. Upon hearing this people were surprised that he had written so many but then Dulot explained that he, in fact, had only written down the end rhyming words (bouts-rimés) for the sonnets and not the sonnets themselves.  Being amused by this admission, the idea was soon embraced and became a popular writing pastime that continued through part of the 18th century and then picked up again in the 19th century and then popularly known as Crambo.  So then the challenge became that a list of rhyming words were given to poets and in the order in which they were given, used as the end rhymes of each line of their poem.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouts-Rim%C3%A9s

The most interesting incident in the history of bouts-rimés is the fact that the elder writer Alexandre Dumas, in 1864, became involved in the challenge and issued an invitation to all the poets of France to display their skill by composing to sets of rhymes selected for the purpose by the poet, Joseph Méry (1798-1866). No fewer than 350 writers responded to the appeal, and Dumas published the results in 1865.


Alexandre Dumas

Google Images; Public Domain

Here is one example using the words: tanned, jump, fanned, lump; reading, lawn, misleading, yawn; yo-yo, death, no-no, breath; France and pants  as outlined  in the book by Ron Padgett, in his “Teachers and Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms” (2nd Edition).


Getting burnt, evaporated, bleached, or tanned
By the sun ain’t no way to jump.
I’d rather plop in shadow, be fanned

By some geisha girl, and lay around like a proverbial lump.

I’m not that hot for so-called good reading;

I just crave a cool drink on a bluegreen lawn.

I mean, don’t let me be misleading:

Where I’m at is sorta like the center of a yawn.

You know, excitement’s like being a yo-yo—

I don’t wanna beat the subject to death,

And it isn’t that repetition ain’t no no-no,

But the last thing I hope to be is out of breath.

So let somebody else go lost-generate all over France,

Or fly to the moon, discover Africa, some damn hotshot smartypants.

Jack Collom

Here is my own poem that I wrote for Tony Maude’s challenge using the words drive, side, night, lied, wage, saved, made, face, nurse, church, worse, purse, back, that:

Back Nine

The first I sliced into the woods, the second was a perfect drive
that landed smack dab in the middle of the green, not to one side
Funny thing, when I use those glow-in-the-dark balls made for night
golf, my game is better. Once, a long putt was placed exquisitely, lied
gently teetering on the edge of the cup and then, plop! A pro’s wage
would have been handsome! The moment is etched, saved
in my memories as one that brought such joy, and pride, it made
me blush to be complimented by my partner and see her admiring face.
Many a time, up at the clubhouse after a game, poor sports would nurse
their lousy scores with liquor and others would brag about missing church
with the family for another Sunday. The back nine was far worse
than the front…many treacherous bunkers and water holes, and many a purse
was lost through wager. While some were won back,
others were left at that.
by Gayle Walters Rose

The skill in bout rimés lies not only in producing a poem that uses the rhyming words at the end of each line as required, but in using them in a way that makes sense and seems natural. The stranger the set of rhymes, the harder this is to do.

Our challenge for today is to use the following fourteen words in the order presented: stay, sits, play, wits, fits, comedy, flits, tragedy, eye, smart, cry, heart, moan, stone.  These words were borrowed from a sonnet by Edmund Spenser.

So we will be writing a fourteen line poem with each of these words being our end line rhymes and they must be used in the order presented.  You may choose to write a sonnet using iambic pentameter if you wish (as was traditional) but it isn’t necessary.

I look forward to reading your unique creations!

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