The Villanelle

Remember when I said “forms can be fun?”

I’ll qualify that statement. SOME forms can be fun.

I told you last time that I found the luc bat form to be not very fun at all. And yet, my poem “Winter fire” snuck into a top ten listing on Robert Brewer’s Writer’s Digest form challenge. I didn’t count how many were submitted and it could be that only ten poets did, but it was nice to sneak onto that list.

(oops, just noticed I didn’t add that to my form page.)

Today, I introduce you to another poetic form that I don’t particularly like. The Villanelle. From Wikipedia, I just learned why I don’t favor this form. It’s not conducive to narrative and therefore doesn’t tell a story.If you are familiar with Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, then you have at least read a Villanelle. Personally, I like Edwin Arlington Robinson‘s villanelle The House on the Hill (1894.)

My attempt was written in response to Poetic Bloomings Villanelle form challenge. I copied the form rules from Marie and Walt:

“The villanelle is 19-line poem consisting of 5 tercets and a final quatrain. It requires no set meter, nor number of syllables per line. It carries a pattern of only two rhyme sounds (ABA in 5 tercets, and then ABAA in final quatrain). The first and third lines of the first tercet repeat alternately as a refrain closing the succeeding stanzas, and rejoin as the final couplet of the quatrain.”

If you attempt this, have some snacks ready. You’ll be needing them.

                                  * * *

“Three winds blow”

The wind blows like a river tress.
A furrowed plainsong breath of threes–
Titan, Knight, and genteel Duchesse.

Titan is a tempest. He rises to oppress
while wielding wrath with somber ease.
The wind blows like a river tress.

Noble Knight blows brackish to impress
rain’s bounty upon famished grass and trees.
Titan, Knight, and genteel Duchesse.

Genteel blows the sunset east to bless
poor man and child with healing breeze.
The wind blows like a river tress—

an earthly plaiting of weathered justice
over desert, gorge, and mountainous seas.
Titan, Knight, and genteel Duchesse.

No growth supplants their power noblesse
the offerings of the braided threes.
The wind blows like a river tress—
Titan, Knight, and genteel Duchesse.


Speak to me of thoughts unspoken.

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