Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Villanelle

There's this one Syliva Plath poem that would always get caught in my head like a song.
Last week in one of my classes, I learned what a villanelle was. It's a poem composed of 5 3-line stanzas followed by a quatrain (a four-line stanza) with a very specific rhyme scheme. They are usually written in iambic pentametre (what Shakespeare writes in. "Two households, both alike in dignity" is the kind of rhythm we are working with) and the rhyme scheme is 

A1 b A2
a b A1
a b A2
a b A1
a b A2
a b A1 A2

where A1 and A2 are lines/concepts that are repeated.

The poem we read as an example was this one:

"One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop


The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

-- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.



A really lovely poem.
After reading it in class, it got stuck in my head like a song, and I thought more about the Sylvia Plath poem and looked it up again and realized it was a villanelle.

"Mad Girl's Love Song" by Sylvia Plath

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 blackness 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.)


Another beautiful poem. I love it. I realized that villanelles often get stuck in my head and I almost set them to music in my mind, because of the rhythm and the repetition of certain lines.

And I decided to write one.

Now, it is nowhere near as good as Bishop's or Plath's because I'm not a poet, but I wrote one and I'll share it.
It was inspired by the film Melancholia, which I saw earlier this month and the book The Fault in Our Stars, which I read earlier this week, both of which are fantastic and I would recommend them to anybody. So here is my villanelle.

"The End of the Race"

I guarantee you we're the only ones
gifted with life in the whole universe.
We slowly spin into the crashing sun.

As for those you think would grieve us, there are none.
So as the heat and hope and loss immerse,
I guarantee you we're the only ones.

Knowing I'm right doesn't make it fun.
We are the last, though clearly weren't the first.
We slowly spin into the crashing sun.

It's easier by pill, or sword, or gun
to join the Great Parade, your float a hearse.
I guarantee you we're the only ones.

And just when you will think that we are done
we'll transform into light and suddenly burst.
We slowly spin into the crashing sun.

We crawl, we race towards oblivion.
And someday there'll be nothing left but dust.
I guarantee you we're the only ones.
We slowly spin into the crashing sun.
 

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