Thursday, June 5, 2008

I Feel a Villanelle Coming On

And there is one buried in here, but you may enjoy it more if you learn a little about the form first. Or, if you prefer, you can skip down to the poems.

Normally I write free verse, unrestricted, flowing, no rhyme scheme, just some basic emotive rules I set for myself. I dearly love many of the forms of poetry that do have rules, however. The sonnet, the haiku, the tanka, the elegy, the ode, the ballad, and the villanelle. Of these, I have always felt most comfortable writing the villanelle.

Don't know what a villanelle is? Well, you probably do, if you've ever read enough Elizabeth Bishop or Dylan Thomas. Both were experts in the poetry form, as were Theodore Roethke, Sylvia Plath, and Oscar Wilde. Does this villanelle sound familiar?

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Dylan Thomas (courtesy of poets.org)
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.
Notice that there are only two rhyme sounds. In this one we have height, sight, night, light, flight, bright, and right. We also have day, they, bay, way, gay, and pray. Two sounds only, but multiple words fitting into that sound. Also notice that the first and third lines of the first stanza create the chorus, if you will, that is repeated throughout the poem and form a couplet at the end of the nineteen line poem. The final rule of this form is that it must consist of five tercets (three-line stanzas) and one final quatrain (four-line stanza). (source: Wikipedia).

I knew that at some point during one of my classes, I wrote a villanelle that I was quite proud of, but I couldn't find it. Well, last night I did find it at last, and here it is for me to freely share with you. I hope you enjoy it. Peace - D

The Night is Old but the Day is Young
For my daughter
© 2006

My daughter, my only, my precious one,
do you remember nights spent bonded to me
when the night was old but the day was young?

You grew up fast, mischief, joy, and fun
on your cherubic face as you needed less of me,
my daughter, my only, my precious one.

Later, when the darkness descended upon
you, I waited and prayed, brewed the strong coffee
when the night was old but the day was young.

The mistakes we both made piled one upon one
though intentions were good, I pray that you see,
my daughter, my only, my precious one.

Darkness returns, and we will not run
from its evil, its foul-breathed insistency.
The night is old but the day is young.

Together, I hope that we fight this as one
force against something not meant to be,
my daughter, my only, my precious one.
The night is old but the day is young.

8 comments:

Daryl said...

So moving .. thank you for sharing it ..


:-Daryl

K.C. said...

I agree, very moving. I actually had some chill bumps while reading this. I could feel my own daughter curled up next to me with this one. Very nice... KC

Maggie May said...

This IS moving! It is also very clever as it doesn't look easy to write this type of poem. Glad you found it.

Momma said...

Daryl - Thanks for stopping by, and I'm glad you liked this villanelle.

K.C. - Thanks! I'm glad you stopped by, and hold that girl a little closer.

Maggie - I'm glad you liked it, my friend. I wrote this during one of the lowest points in our relationship. The love never stops for our children, does it?

Peace - D

Dave Baldwin said...

Hi Momma,

I have tried this form a few times. It is VERY hard to pull off successfully. A well written villanelle can fool the reader into thinking he or she can do it, too. Good luck on that!

I love your poem, but then I am a big fan of your poetry anyway.

One of my favorites is by Theodore Roethke. I am sure you are familiar with it, but I'm adding it here for your readers.

THE WAKING

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.


Chow,

Oregon Pundit

Momma said...

Dave -

Thanks for sharing that classic Roethke with us :-) Beautiful!

I'm so glad you stopped by, and I hope your new grandchild is doing well!

Peace - D

Not Afraid To Use It said...

I am sure in one of my writing classes I had to attempt a villanelle. My favorite was always the sestina. I know a lot of people do not like the "constraints" of formed poetry, but it really forces one to think in a different way. I love your poem. Knowing the story makes it all the more poignant.

Momma said...

NATUI - That's what I love about formed poetry. It's like the painted horses, cows, and pandas that various cities distributed to local artists. Same form, but what can the artist do with it? Each one is unique.

Peace - D