A Pinch of Poetry: The Villanelle

I’m not only a reader–I also enjoy creative writing. Lately, I’ve been exploring different poetry forms and styles and like to share some with you. Today, I want to focus on the style of the Villanelle.

The villanelle originated in Spanish and Italian dance songs and would speak of pastoral or rustic themes–originally the Italian “villano” meant “peasant.” But nowadays a villanelle can be of anything. Theodore de Banville popularized the form in the 1800s and there are many now we know without knowing they are villanelles.

Probably the most famous example of a villanelle is “Do Not Go Gently Into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas. Some other examples are “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop, “The House on the Hill” by Edward Arlington Robinson, and “Mad Girl’s Love Song” by Sylvia Plath.

Now that we know where to find villanelles, let’s get on to the good stuff. How do I write a villanelle? What does this poem consist of?

A villanelle consists of 19 lines, organized in 5 stanzas of 3 lines each and then 1 closing stanza of 4 lines. (A stanza is like a paragraph within a poem). So the first requirement of this poem is to have 6 paragraphs–the first 5 must have 3 lines, and the last one has 4 lines.

There is, of course, a certain rhyme scheme to follow. The villanelle rhyme scheme is: ABA ABA ABA ABA ABA ABAA. The A’s in each paragraph rhyme with each other and the B’s don’t rhyme.

Finally, one other thing to remember is that the first and third line of the poem will repeat throughout. The second stanza will end with the first line, the third stanza ends with the third line, the fourth stanza ends with the first line, the fifth stanza ends with the third line, and then in the last stanza, both the first line and the third line will conclude the poem.

I gave it a go with this poem I called “Endless Night”:

Eighteen, eyes shining bright. The world had responded to my touch. Now I’m submerged in endless night.

Adulthood became a disease, a blight, but back then my dreams made a path, Eighteen, eyes shining bright.

Two roads diverged and I fled in fright, down the one with safe trodden leaves, Now I’m submerged in endless night.

What I discovered in my path of flight, was not the promised trove of gold. Eighteen, eyes shining bright.

I needed to earn but wanted to write, and so I studied abscess of mind. Now I’m submerged in endless night.

I had turned my eyes from the light and mistook the comfort of a shadow. Eighteen, eyes shining bright, Now I’m submerged in endless night.

Now It’s your turn! Why not give it a go?

By myadventure2017

Writer, Reader, Bookstagrammer, Booktoker, Blogger

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