Shield Wall by Dennis Daly


All the poems in this collection are rondels. Developed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the popular French rondel (rondeau) probably originated as a dance song. Early versions used mostly thirteen and fourteen-line rhymed variations and were often set to music. In the fifteenth century Francois Villon famously employed a twelve-line variation. Meter seems to be discretional, although lines typically number eight syllables. The first line of the first stanza in these twelve-line poems is used as a refrain as the last line of both the second stanza and third stanza. The rhyme scheme of these poems is most often abba aba abbaa.

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  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 92
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: September, 2021
  • ISBN: 978-1-953252-36-4

“Assassins grow in purity:” one of the many intriguing premises you’ll discover in Shield Wall, Dennis Daly’s deep excursion into the rondel. Here are sixty outings in this form, ranging from the ironic or devotional to the loving, militant, vernal, even gothic or surreal. Faithful to the rondel’s tight demands, Daly nevertheless creates a universe flexible in meter, line endings, and rhyme. His classical learning and devotion to the heritages of poetry infuse but never dominate this collection. Time spent inside Shield Wall will take you from beginning points like “A riptide wraps around my heart,” leading you down unexpected paths. —David P. Miller


Battle Axe

The battle axe breaks through the wood
Near the handheld iron center,
The splintering, a bisector
Of stinking fear and brotherhood.

Still there is nothing understood
By the bludgeon and bloody blur,
The battle axe breaks through the wood.

A new shield, another falsehood,
Protects the heart of cloying muser
And his scribe, a blackguard bruiser,
Who writes in rhyme, as well he should.
The battle axe breaks through the wood.


Denis DalyDennis Daly lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Joanne. They have four adult children. Daly graduated from Boston College and has an M.A. in English Literature from Northeastern University. He has published eight books of poetry and poetic translations. Among other jobs Daly has worked as a dockworker, a Union Leader of a 9000 member industrial local, a city department head, and a community corrections director. He has travelled widely in central Asia.

Additional information

Weight 6.4 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in