Mechanic Monday: Villanelle!

This is first edition of Mechanic Monday and it is late! Partially because I didnt finish my research in time and partially because I was being lazy. This should have been posted last monday but they say better late than never, correct? So! Let’s get to it.

Today, we are looking at the villanelle form.

The villanelle is very structured. It is made of 19 lines total. There are 5 stanzas with 3 lines, and one stanza made of 4 lines. Throughout the poem, there is 2 rhyme patterns and 2 refrains. It is commonly written in either tetrameter (8 syllables – the stresses on the words is ta-TUM ta-TUM ta-TUM ta-TUM) or pentameter (10 syllables, same idea). The rhyme scheme is ABA for each stanza. The couplet used in the first stanza is used as the refrains that are repeated in the poem.

That first couplet is critical. The entire poem builds on it to clarify and enhance whatever the poet chooses to say.

It didn’t start out as a structured form. During the renaissance period, this form was for italian and spanish dancing songs. Scholars argue that it didn’t become a fixed form until
the french poet Thomas de Banville.

One of the most famous poems written in this form is a poem that I love! I would post it for one of my Favorite Fridays but we are going to dissect it right now because it’s such a good example.

Do not go gentle into that good night:
by Dylan Thomas

A1 Do not go gentle into that good night, (This is 10 syllables long. The poem is written in pentameter. This line is refrain 1.)
B1 Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
A2 Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (refrain 2)

A3 Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
B2 Because their words had forked no lightning they
A1 Do not go gentle into that good night. (line 1, first refrain repeats itself here.)

4a  Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
3b  Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
2a  Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (line 3, second refrain repeated)

5A  Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
4B   And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
A1   Do not go gentle into that good night. (refrain 1)

6A Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
5B  Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
A2  Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (refrain 2)

 7A And you, my father, there on the sad height,
6B  Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
1A  Do not go gentle into that good night.  (refrain 1)
2A  Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (refrain 2)

My attempt at this form still needs some major editing so… I’ll be posting it tomorrow! I’m getting better at pentameter but… still looking a bit iffy lol.




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