A Free Verse Villanelle

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A villanelle consists of five three-line stanzas and one four-line stanza. In the first stanza, the first and last lines rhyme, and the first line of all the other stanzas rhymes with the first line of the poem. The middle lines of the first five stanzas all rhyme. The first line of the poem is repeated as the last line of stanzas two and four and the last line of the first stanza is repeated in stanzas three and five. Finally, the sixth stanza ends with the first and last line of the first stanza.

Got it? It’s really hard to do. By the way, it should make sense, too.

Mine has the right number of stanzas and the repetitions are correct. Nothing at all rhymes, which made it a lot easier.

To My Many

Memories resting on the sidelines
Ever present, never seen
One is many, many one.

Clothed in shades of tawn and russet
Decaying thoughts and fading blood
Memories resting on the sidelines.

Tawn and russet crusted bodies
All the same and all unique
One is many, many one.

Just below an opaque surface
Firmly past still yet present
Memories resting on the sidelines.

Slide along, you russet alters,
Your beings blend in tawny grace
One is many, many one.

Every alter once a body
Every body binding time
Memories resting on the sidelines
One is many, many one.

This doesn’t count as a villanelle, but I’m pretty sure it’s the best poem I have ever written. I love it because the horror that shattered my soul is only alluded to. Characteristics of alters are described, as well as how they function over time. The form of the poem places constraints on the expression of ideas and feelings, echoing the constraints that shaped my mental processes.

I wish I could write more poems like this. Actually, I wish I could write more poems, period. But, like memories, poems come when they feel like it, stay a while, and then become memories themselves. I am just an extension of my pen, a vessel that the poem uses to create itself.

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4 thoughts on “A Free Verse Villanelle

  1. Oh, my, Jean! This is magnificent, beautiful in form and creativity. And beautiful in its courage. Thank you for doing this. Trying a villanelle is literary guts like surviving iis personal courage.

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