Writing Exercise – The Rhyme Royal

by | October 6, 2013 | Writing Exercise | 10 comments

James I of Scotland

 By Ashley Lister

 The rhyme royal (sometimes called the rime royale by those
who prefer to spell things incorrectly) is a fairly straightforward poetic

It refers to a stanza of seven lines, each line containing
ten syllables, and the whole poem following a rhyming pattern of a b a b b c c.
The form, according to the Poetry Foundation, was popularized by Geoffrey
Chaucer and termed “royal” because his imitator, James I of Scotland, employed this
structure in his own verse.

Here’s an example of one I wrote earlier.

We talk about our plans for this evening

Things we’d love to do when at our

I long to give your sexual bells a ring:

Thrill you with a night you’ll always

In return you give a choice of pleasure

But I care not if you swallow or spit

I’m happy if you put your mouth round it.

Note that there are ten syllables per line. This isn’t iambic
pentameter. This is merely ten syllables per line. Writing in iambs might make
for something more profound but, as regular readers of these exercises will be
aware, I am an exceptionally superficial poet.

One of the many fun things about this form is that the
stanzas can be used to form verses in a longer poem. This is the way Chaucer
used it in his work and we can see examples of this in Wyatt, Auden and many

I pluck your pubes from twixt my teeth
and smile

The taste of you still lingers on my lips

Your scent’s a mem’ry that’s made to

I yearn to squirm beneath your fingertips

And play with toys like canes and crops
and whips

And savour pleasures borne beyond belief

Then pluck more pubes from in between my

As always, please feel free to share your rhyme royals in
the comments box below.

Ashley Lister

Ashley Lister is a UK author responsible for more than two-dozen erotic novels written under a variety of pseudonyms. His most recent work, a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his second title published under his own name: Swingers: Female Confidential by Ashley Lister (Virgin Books; ISBN: 0753513439) Ashley’s non-fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Forum, Chapter & Verse and The International Journal of Erotica. Nexus, Chimera and Silver Moon have published his full-length fiction, with shorter stories appearing in anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Mitzi Szereto. He is very proud to be a regular contributor to ERWA.


  1. Madeline Moore

    Uh oh. I'll have to bring this post to the attention of the Baron. Felix Baron, that is. 🙂

    • Felix Baron

      I could wax endlessly on the joys of cunnilingus, and with wax, avoid getting those little hairs between my teeth.

  2. Ashley R Lister

    I look forward to hearing Felix Baron's take on this 😉

  3. Emma Jackson

    my cunt a flower, opening to thee
    russet lips bejewelled with ruby blood
    a vampyric delight, now come kiss me
    bite me, feasting frenzy, suck on my bud
    caressed with trembling tongue, make my heart thud
    sensation flooding, juices dripping too
    with screams of ecstasy I come to you

  4. Ashley R Lister

    Emma – strong opening line. It draws me in with the strong use of language.

    In the fifth line I would have written the word 'trembling' as tremb'ling, just so the reader knows they shouldn't be pronouncing it 'trem-bul-ling' but that's just a minor quibble on my part.

    Excellent poetry.


  5. Emma Jackson

    Thank you, a friend recommended this site as I'm wanting to get more writing experience. Enjoying having a meander round, getting used to things 🙂

  6. Lisabet Sarai

    I wouldn't call you superficial, Ashley – just facile!

  7. Nettie

    Well, I know I envy you being able to whip out these forms as fast as fresh pasta. Here's my attempt.
    This is the grist from which the erotic
    arises: a small chill which lifts the skin
    of the neck, the whisper of quixotic
    suggestions for tongues and lips and small sins,
    the apple blush of blood formed in the cheeks,
    a draped ribbon for the hint of technique.

    If I can only post once, then my thoughts on this are that this form really does lend itself to a longer poem. I ran out of writing time so had to actually work hard not to carry over into a second stanza. I also had to work very hard counting syllables. Oddly enough, it seems easier to me to count beats / stress than it does to count syllables. Thanks for the challenge!

    • Ashley R Lister

      Cool use of enjambment. Clever rhyming. And stylish use of erotic scene-painting. Yes, this form does lend itself to a longer piece of work. But I think you've done a stylish job of making it work in this short piece of writing.


  8. Rachel Green

    Your scent seeps into my pores, my fingers
    dipped in liquid musk, bright with fresh-spilled blood
    reflecting candlelight. A name lingers
    on your ruby lips but it does no good
    to speak of him. I have your maidenhood.
    You are forever spoiled for love of boys
    to feast for always on our Sapphic joys

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