A Collection of Original Poetry by Students of Ladysmith High School

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Villainous Villanelle

The Villanelle is a more tricky form to master, but it produces remarkable results with a little bit of effort.
To summarise, it is a 19 line poem, consisting of five 3-line stanzas and a final 4 - line stanza. Two lines repeat throughout the poem, which means you have to write 11 unique lines, plus the two which repeat. In addition to this, there is a rhyme scheme, using two rhymes (a and b).
a b a   a b a   a b a   a b a   a b a   a b a a
You do not have to count the syllables of your lines, unless you want to, but lines should be consistent in length (between 8 - 10 syllables).

The first step is to write a rhyming couplet which contains the main theme of your poem. It must have a 'stand alone' sense but should also be possible to be used individually as the concluding lines of your stanzas.
Dylan Thomas wrote one of the most famous villanelles in English literary history. You can read the full text HERE. His repeating lines are:

Do not go gentle into that good night     (lines 1, 6, 12, 18)
Rage, rage against the dying of the light  (lines 3, 9, 15, 19)


Line 1 (a) Repeat
Line 2 (b)
Line 3 (a) Repeat

Line 4 (a)
Line 5 (b)
Line 1 (a) R

Line 7 (a)
Line 8 (b)
Line 3 (a) R

Line 10 (a)
Line 11 (b)
Line 1   (a) R

Line 13 (a)
Line 14 (b)
Line 3   (a) R

Line 16 (a)
Line 17 (b)
Line 1   (a) R
Line 2   (a) R

This may seem like an impossible task, but examples of amazing villanelles are to be found on this blog.

Click the links below:

 Cheron ~ Burnt Out

Meleza ~ A Letter to my Grandfather

Yuktha ~ Winter has been Blown Away

Pryaska ~ Far Above the Milky Way

Nsiki ~ Death of Nature

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