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Rondeau by James Henry Leigh Hunt

Yesterday's poem was the most famous rondeau of the English language, In Flanders Fields by John McCrae. Today's poem was selected because of its title:

Rondeau
by James Henry Leigh Hunt

Jenny kissed me when we met,
  Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
  Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
  Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I'm growing old, but add,
  Jenny kissed me.



The official title of the poem is "Rondeau", although it is often called "Jenny Kissed Me" as well. Unlike an actual rondeau, this poem is a single stanza of eight lines, with a rhyme scheme of ABABCDCD. It is written using trochaic feet (DUMta DUMta DUMta) in a form of hymn meter, with the following syllable counts: 7-8-7-8-7-8-7-4. What it shares with yesterday's rondeau (in addition to calling itself by that form's name) is the use of the first three words (or first four syllables, if you prefer) as its "refrain", with the poem beginning and ending with those same three words.

The poem is semi-autobiographical. Leigh Hunt had been seriously ill with influenza; upon visiting his friends Thomas Carlyle and his wife, Jane Welsh Carlyle (nicknamed "Jenny"), she jumped up and kissed him. Leigh Hunt wrote the poem as a tribute.

Although I think this poem reads like something from the first half of the 20th century, it was in fact written nearly a century earlier, during early Victorian times. James Henry Leigh Hunt was born in England in 1784, and lived until 1859. He was a good friend of both Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats, and introduced Keats to Italian poetry as well as personally introducing Keats to Shelley. Leigh Hunt was also an essayist and newspaper writer. He was also the person on whom Charles Dickens based the character of Skimpole in Bleak House.


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Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
ex_kmessner
Apr. 22nd, 2009 01:09 pm (UTC)
I've always found this poem charming but never knew the story behind it until today. Thanks, Kelly!

Also...are you going to NE SCBWI this weekend?
kellyrfineman
Apr. 22nd, 2009 01:29 pm (UTC)
I find this poem charming, and always thought it was written about 100 years later than it actually was.

And yes, I'll be at NESCBWI this weekend.
jamarattigan
Apr. 22nd, 2009 01:56 pm (UTC)
One of my faves!! Thanks. :)
kellyrfineman
Apr. 22nd, 2009 02:46 pm (UTC)
I love this one too - so light and sweet and simple and clean.
p_sunshine
Apr. 22nd, 2009 03:36 pm (UTC)
Aww - very sweet. And you're right - it feels like a much more recent poem - especially the last 4 lines
kellyrfineman
Apr. 22nd, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC)
You're 100% correct - it's those final four lines that feel modern. I can't help but like this poem. A lot.
jenny_moss
Apr. 22nd, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
I like this one. ;)
kellyrfineman
Apr. 22nd, 2009 08:15 pm (UTC)
Isn't it sweet? (I think you should have a handsome gentleman read it to you . . . )
writerjenn
Apr. 22nd, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC)
This is one of the few poems I've ever known by heart. I first encountered it in a MG book by Shirley Simon called BEST FRIEND--pubbed in 1968, but I read it to pieces when I was growing up.
kellyrfineman
Apr. 23rd, 2009 01:05 am (UTC)
S loves "Nothing Gold Can Stay" because it was in The Outsiders. But I'm pretty sure she hasn't memorized it.

Perhaps you can recite it for Angela and me next week.
lizjonesbooks
Apr. 23rd, 2009 02:07 am (UTC)
Such a sweet story!
kellyrfineman
Apr. 23rd, 2009 02:20 am (UTC)
Isn't it charming?
(Anonymous)
Apr. 23rd, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC)
Tanita Says :)
Aww. This is so sweet. I'm old, I'm gray, but whatev -- I know that in my past, Jenny kissed me. I love it.
kellyrfineman
Apr. 23rd, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Tanita Says :)
Isn't it darling?
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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