About the villanelle

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I posted my July Word of the Month poem and cast it in the rigid form called villanelle. For those who are unfamiliar with its requirements and history, here’s a bit of background.

The highly structured villanelle is a nineteen-line poem with two repeating rhymes and two refrains. The form is made up of five tercets (3-line stanzas) followed by a quatrain (4-line stanza). The first and third lines of the opening tercet are repeated alternately in the last lines of the succeeding stanzas; then in the final stanza, the refrain serves as the poem’s two concluding lines.

The form originated hundreds of years ago in France but has become increasingly popular among poets writing in English. An often quoted example is Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that good night”:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I’ve had fun with this form before and enjoy creating humor even while abiding by humorless rules. Some of you may remember this one that has been previously published here and elsewhere.

The Feisty Pig of France
By David L. Harrison

The feisty pig of France is prone to root
In search of buried fungus called the truffle.
The problem is he likes to eat the loot.

Farmer tries to train the spry galoot
To snout the fungus out by sniff and snuffle.
The feisty pig of France is prone to root.

Farmer can’t control the greedy brute.
The pig will dig and fill a gallon duffel.
The problem is he likes to eat the loot.

When farmer yells, he doesn’t give a hoot.
He swings his derriere in a shuffle.
The feisty pig of France is prone to root.

Sometimes the farmer prods him with a boot,
But swine hide is much too tough to ruffle.
The problem is he likes to eat the loot.

The pig is much too valuable to shoot
And farmer knows he’d lose if they should scuffle.
The feisty pig of France is prone to root.
The problem is he likes to eat the loot.

Advertisements

2 comments on “About the villanelle

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s