Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Villanelle - How to Write One

I can't say I'm an expert on this one, but I have written one which I think was well done. I've searched the internet and found a site that shows and explains how to manage this frustrating poetic form.

This site gives a studied look at one villanelle poem - read it and you will understand the form. I recommend having a rhyming dictionary close at hand if you want to give the villanelle a try.

Frustrating yes, but when you get it right, you can be justly proud of yourself. It isn't easy to get the right lines to use in this form. A villanelle repeats two lines at regular intervals, and if you get it wrong it can end up lame, or stupid.

If you have been writing free verse poetry and want to try something more structured, why not give the villanelle a try? The form has been around for over three hundred years, and has been successfully written by famous poets - Dylan Thomas has one that almost everyone would have heard of 'Do not go gentle into that good night/Rage, rage against the dying of the light' . If you've never heard of it, well, do yourself a favour and read it. It does the job so well, so deeply and it has been moving people for over seventy years.

My best villanelle so far isn't so famous, but it has received favorable comment from poets wiser than me. Here it is if you're interested (careful, adult theme):-

Repressed memory syndrome

She didn't know what she would find,
she hoped an inner peace may rise
as she searched back to her child-mind.

Not innocent, she wasn't blind
as she looked deep with knowing eyes.
She didn't know what she would find,

reluctance should have been a sign
of what she hadn't realised -
the secrets locked in her child-mind.

Hoping for something soft and kind,
recalling only pain and lies.
She didn't know that she would find

an image of a harsh face, lined,
hard callused hands and frightening sighs
bewildering to her child-mind.

Her mother had ignored her cries,
the bruises on her skinny thighs.
She didn't know what she would find,
she'll bury again her child-mind.


TK said...

I think this is one of your best works!!!! Well done, Villanelle is really difficult for me with the rhyming lines that just don't come naturally to me...I always feel really stupid when I write them!!

Carolyn Cordon said...

Thanks for commenting Tiff - I wonder if Teri has tried to write one. Maybe that could be a goal for our group - write a villanelle that won't make you cringe! They are not easy!

Helen Hayden said...

Heres mine caroline, its titled

Peace and quiet, tranquility of day,
Brings to ones mind, peace, glory
Of all the things to come what may.

Hoping the grey clouds roll away,
Let the sun exude its warmth,
Peace and quiet, tranquility of day.

As the sun beckons through clouds today,
The trees blossom, ready to bare fruit,
Of all the things to come what may.

The birds chirp, so happy and gay,
Flying feeding, mating rituals begin,
Peace and quite, tranquility of day.

Farmers harvest, cutting hay,
Hoping, praying for a better year,
Of all the things to come what may.

Sitting in the glorious sunlight,
Taking in the warmth, the excitement,
Peace and quiet, tranquility of day,
Of all the things to come what may!