Schweitzer, Edward C. "The Allegory of Robert Henryson's
'The Bludy Serk.'" Studies in Scottish Literature 15 (1980):
BOB-AND-WHEEL The bob-and-wheel is a metrical pattern found predominately in alliterative poetry, especially that of the Gawain-poet and other 14th-century romances. The bob-and-wheel pattern is found at the close of stanzas. Five lines in total, it begins with the bob, a short line, generally only two or three syllables in length, which contains one stressed syllable preceded by one or two unstressed syllables. This line is followed by a quatrain called the wheel. Together, the rhyme scheme is ababa.
The bob both echoes the alliteration of the first part of the stanza and completes the concluding tail rhyme. As such, it functions as a linguistic link within each stanza that connects the competing rhyme schemes into a holistic pattern. Alternatively, the bob-and-wheel pattern may be used as a burden, though this is uncommon.
See also alliterative revival, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
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