Week Twenty-Five: The Chanso

History

The Chanso (also sometimes called the Canso) poetic and song form was popular with the French troubadours in the second half of the 13th century. When reading about the chanso, you’ll likely run into the following terms, which I’ve broken down below for clarification.

Chanso/Canso/Chanson/Canzone

Chanso: A poetic and song form used by the troubadours
Canso: Another name for the chanso form
Chanson: A lyric-driven French song
Canzone: An Italian variation of the chanso form

Example

On the Forest Moon, by Robert Lee Brewer

“3PO! Come in, 3PO! 3PO! Where could he be?”
-Luke Skywalker

With all the things I have been through,
I thought it must be obvious–
the odds good you already knew–
like R2 I’ve grown mischievous

and abandoned Jedi and Sith
for a vacay with my Ewoks,
who love to hear me spin a myth
and always listen when I talk.

Not that I hate on Master Luke,
though I could do without that Han,
who’s quick to give a tough rebuke
every time things don’t go to plan.

It’s just I don’t like being shot
or getting pulled into pieces.
After all, I’m not a robot
when I’ve got telekinesis,

or at least, that’s what Ewoks think
as they sing “yub-yub” on their moon,
which was once on the very brink
of the Empire’s galactic doom.

So look and you’ll find me no more:
I’ll be the droid you’re looking for.

Requirements of the Form

Form

– Consists of four or five stanzas of equal length, followed by a half-stanza (known as an envoy or tornada) which is identical in structure to the second half of the preceding stanza

Content

– Poet’s choice, but historically written as a love song
– The first stanza usually introduces the topic of the poem
– The envoy often features a summation of the themes explored in the previous stanzas

Syllables

– Poet’s choice, but each line of the poem should contain the same number or syllables

Rhyme

– Poet’s choice, but should be consistent from stanza to stanza, excepting the envoy, which usually ends in a couplet

Requirement Breakdown

Example of a Chanso in Five Stanzas

[Stanza 1] 4 lines, 8 syllables, ab rhyme
[Stanza 2] 4 lines, 8 syllables, cd rhyme
[Stanza 3] 4 lines, 8 syllables, ef rhyme
[Stanza 4] 4 lines, 8 syllables, gh rhyme
[Stanza 5] 2 lines, 8 syllables, ii rhyme

An Original Chanso

What Happens Now

What happens now is important:
a journey of a thousand miles,
a heroic test of fortune,
will carry you across the isles

of fear and imagination,
of suffering and beauty found
interwoven through creation,
like the moon’s pull on the tide, bound

inextricably together.
Don’t scar the earth mining for gold;
the cave within holds the treasure
so often sought, but never sold,

and never bought at any price,
though you’ll find many dishonest
men advertising otherwise.
Your actions now are a promise;

Your choices now fashion your fate—
Choose courage now; it’s not too late.

Links to Online Resources

Canso – Wikipedia
Chanso: Poetic Form – Writer’s Digest
Chanso – Poets Collective

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