25 April 2014

V is for Villanelle: Breaking Writer's Block with Poetry

Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.
~ Cassandra Clare

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.


s it is still April, it is still National Poetry Month.  I highlighted one poet, Margaret Atwood, at the beginning of the month.

As we near the end of the challenge, let’s take a look at a form of poetry.

V is for Villanelle
The Villanelle is an interesting structure for poetry.

Poets.org describes it thus: 
The highly structured villanelle is a nineteen-line poem with two repeating rhymes and two refrains. The form is made up of five tercets followed by a quatrain. The first and third lines of the opening tercet are repeated alternately in the last lines of the succeeding stanzas; then in the final stanza, the refrain serves as the poem's two concluding lines.
 Using capitals for the refrains and lowercase letters for the rhymes, the form could be expressed as: A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 A2. 

Dylan Thomas was a master of the villanelle, as evidenced by his poem below (one of my favorites):

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
by Dylan Thomas

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.

Variety is the spice of a Writer’s Life
Poetry is a great way to wake up the Muse if she’s gone to sleep at the typewriter.  It forces you to really think about words, how they sound, how they fit and flow and dance. 

Poetry, especially in this form, makes you concentrate on structure and sound and emotional impact.  If you’re stuck in your writing, try composing a villanelle.

Muses eat that stuff up.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Have you ever written a poem in villanelle form?  Share it with us!

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