Villanelle

1) It is a poem of 19 lines.
2) It has 5 stanzas, each of three lines, with a final one of four lines.
3) The first line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the second and fourth stanzas.
4) The third line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the third and fifth stanzas.
5) These two refrain lines follow each other to become the second-to-last and last lines of the poem.
6) The rhyme scheme is ABA. The rhymes are repeated according to the refrains.

It is a form of verse, originally loose in construction, that since the 16th century is bound in exact limits of an
arbitrary kind. The word is ultimately derived from the Latin “villa,” a country house or farm, through the Italian
villano, a peasant or farm hand, and a villanelle was primarily a round song taken up by the men on the farm.

There are a number of things we need to consider when learning to write a villanelle.

1. The method of denoting rhyming sequence,
2. Refrains
3. The format for the villanelle,
4. Hints on how to write them.

1. In form, poetry letters are used to denote rhyming sequences.
Any "a or A" rhymes with another "a or A"
Any "b or B" rhymes with another "a or A"

If more rhymes are needed, other letters would be used but the rules remain the same.

2. Refrains: a refrain is a repeated line, either in part or in whole. (Note: a refrain is the “chorus” in a song; the
repeated words that make the rhythm.)

For the villanelle the refrains are repeated in whole. They are denoted with capital letters: A, B.

Because our refrains will rhyme with each other, we will show them as different by using A1 and A2. Capital still
denotes a refrain, but the numbers will keep them separate.

3. The villanelle's rhyming sequence:


A1 b  A2          - Lines in first tercet.
a  b  A1          - Lines in second tercet.
a  b  A2          - Lines in third tercet.
a  b  A1          - Lines in fourth tercet.
a  b  A2          - Lines in fifth tercet.
a  b  A1 A2       - Lines in final quatrain.



Mad Girl's Love Song

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary darkness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said.
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

--Sylvia Plath


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.

--Theodore Roethke

Do not go gentle into that good night

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.

-Dylan Thomas