June is Villanelle Month!

toniclark
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Joined: May 5th, 2006, 6:47 pm

June 2nd, 2015, 8:10 am #1

June is Villanelle Month at The Waters. Join us for an exploration of this old French form. You can read a bit about the form and its history at poets.org, Wikipedia, and many other websites.



If you really want to delve into it, here are a couple of books of interest:



Villanelles, Edited by Annie Finch and Marie-Elizabeth Mali



The Villanelle: Evolution of a Poetic Form, by Ronald E. McFarland







The two most famous ones, I'm sure, are Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" and Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art."



Here are many of the most famous ones: The Best Villanelles of All Time.



Here's one by my friend, Julie Kane: Thoughtball Villanelle. Julie did her PhD dissertation on the history of the villanelle. 



And following are some examples from Waters Poets.



Esther, in another thread, offered the suggestion of using borrowed lines to begin a villanelle. I've found it useful to start with someone else's rhyming couplet (as lines 1 and 3). Here are a couple I wrote a long time ago using that technique. 



Caveat



         Great Caesar's bust is on my shelf,

         And I don't feel so well myself.

                 Arthur Guiterman, "On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness" 



Great Caesar's bust is on my shelf,

who once filled generals with dread.

And I don't feel so well, myself.



Memento mori! No power or wealth

can last. Gaze at his laureled head:

Great Caesar's bust is on my shelf.



Tempus fugit – It takes your breath

away -- just as our dreams have fled.

And I don't feel so well, myself.



We cling to youth, we pray for health—

But Time’s bloodhounds can’t be misled.

Great Caesar's bust is on my shelf.



Death may approach with shadowy stealth

or galloping like a thoroughbred.

And I don't feel so well, myself.



So, carpe diem! Enjoy yourself.

Vita brevis and then you're dead.

Great Caesar's bust is on my shelf,

and I don't feel so well, myself.





The Thought of Men 



         After a couplet by Dorothy Parker 



I shudder at the thought of men, 

their bumbling efforts at romance. 

I’m due to fall in love again. 



This is the way it’s always been. 

I don’t mind pets. I’m good with plants. 

I shudder at the thought of men. 



I’ve sworn them off before – and then, 

succumbed to the first smoldering glance. 

No doubt I’ll fall in love again. 



They’re not at all like Barbie’s Ken. 

Their snorts and grunts, their tiresome rants! 

I shudder at the thought of men, 



Sweat! Smoke! Their clutter in my den. 

Their dirty socks and underpants! 

I’m due to fall in love again. 



I think: Instead, I’ll study Zen, 

or French, or learn to belly dance. 

I shudder at the thought of men, 

I’m due to fall in love again. 





Here’s one of Esther’s, from a few years ago:



Jazz Villanelle



Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn,

give us a tune on your old alto sax;

So the sheep’s in the meadow, the cow’s in the corn––



What does it matter? To music you’re born.

Hit it—the note, not the hay—leave those stacks;

Little Boy Blue, just blow on that horn.



Make blue notes like Bird, you’re the most! We’ll transform,

I’m blowin’ bass, every cat’s got his axe—

you want deep, you want mellow? Yeah, let’s cut the corn,



Let’s really get down, we won’t go home till mornin',

we’ll get us a gig and we’ll earn us some scratch,

Daddy Beedle Blue, just you blow on that horn and



we’ll win us a Grammy as sure as you’re born.

We got us some grass, and some acid and smack—

sheesh, we got meds, oh cool, we are gone!



Swing it, yeah, swing us a solo that burns,

We got a beedle deedle disk we’re gonna wa-wa-wax

and a sheedle mep meddle and the crows they is a cawin’—

Man, but you are blue, now blow-woe-woe that horn!




Here’s another of Esther’s, which came about after someone on a poetry board asked if there were any comic villanelles.



My Funny Villanelle    



My funny villanelle, my comic villanelle– 

here is a smile from my hand;

It isn’t written well, as anyone can tell,



yet it’s so terrible it’s almost risible,

and so may meet the demand

for funny villanelles and comic villanelles



that now begins to swell and multiply pell-mell

throughout this whole wide land.

It isn’t written well, as anyone can tell,



I doubt I’ll  ever sell this poem to Mademoiselle

nor yet to Racing Fan.

My funny villanelle, my comic villanelle



just doesn’t want to jell, the lines aren’t parallel, 

it needs a rewrite man.

It isn’t written well, as anyone can tell,



the meter limps like hell, it makes me want to yell 

"Scan, funny villanelle, scan!"

It isn’t written well, as anyone can tell.

It’s time to quell my comic villanelle.





And here’s one by Judy Kaber:



Some things are impossible



I lie down on my bed to sleep,

sheets straightened, pillows plump.

My stubborn thoughts race and weep.



Clock says two, can’t drift, count sheep.

I yank the blanket, turn back to front.

I lie down on my bed to sleep.



I keep my breathing slow and deep,

imagine beaches, waves that drum.

My stubborn thoughts race and weep.



At four I rise, get food to eat,

open my book, words zip and jump.

I lie down on my bed to sleep.



Outside the darkness seeps

back in the ground, out day thumps.

My stubborn thoughts race and weep.



Last sliver, slight chance, a chip, a peep.

Ragged, jagged, mind in clumps.

I lie down on my bed to sleep.

My stubborn thoughts race and weep.
Last edited by toniclark on June 3rd, 2015, 6:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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toniclark
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Joined: May 5th, 2006, 6:47 pm

June 11th, 2015, 6:53 pm #2

Sorry I messed up this topic (trying to move Laurie's villanelle to its own thread). This is Osel's reply to my first post.
Really like the Thoughtball Villanelle. It's always nice too, to be pleasantly surprised when a title hasn't quite grabbed you. thoughtball had me thinking spitball. 
Thanks for sharing that, and all this, that you've put together!  



Last Edited By: Osel 06/02/15 18:28:30. Edited 3 times.
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FranklyDire
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Joined: June 7th, 2015, 6:45 pm

June 22nd, 2015, 11:28 am #3

For death has crushed my mother's love
and rules corrupt her body slain
She lies below her heart above

Her grave within the myrtle grove
Decay distorts her hauman frame
For death has crushed my mother's love

Twin scarlet rivulets of blood
in clouded crystal sockets reign
She lies below, her heart above

No more our Lord to worship move
caressed b worms her scant remains
For death has crushed my mother's love

My heart puts on velvet glove
a mask to cover all my pain
She lies below her heart above

Satan has killed my wounded dove
but we are left and must remain
For death has crushed my mother's love
She lies below, her heart above
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