Villanelle

The villanelle is a French adaptation of the Italian "country song." It contains 19 lines: five tercets and one quatrain. It is usually written in iambic tetrameter or pentameter, but iambs and trochees are sometimes combined. The rhyme scheme is A1bA2  abA1  abA2  abA1  abA2  abA1A2, where A1 and A2 are repeated refrains.

The Villanelle

The villanelle repeats two lines;
Refrains appear four times apiece.
A pattern, thus, the form defines.

Throughout the verse the pattern twines
With iambs marching sans surcease.
The villanelle repeats two lines.

It's plain to see the verse confines...
Two rhymes recur without caprice.
A pattern, thus, the form defines.

Along the way, the twisting vines
Appear in rows like ranked police.
The villanelle repeats two lines.

A quatrain at the end aligns,
And tercet stanzas find release.
A pattern, thus, the form defines

These "rustic songs" are like fine wines;
They sparkle after ferments cease.
The villanelle repeats two lines;
A pattern, thus, the form defines.

Classical Villanelles

A Saturnalian Villanelle

The cry of "Io!" resounds in Rome.
December's chill is in the air.
All toil has ceased; relax at home.

The time has passed for tilling loam,
And holidays should brook no care,
The cry of "Io!" resounds in Rome.

Adorn the hall with fir and holm.
Prepare a feast for all to share.
All toil has ceased; relax at home.

Beyond the door the slaves won't roam
For soon they'll sample finer fare.
The cry of "Io!" resounds in Rome.

Receive a gift of polished pome,
Or roll the dice if you so dare.
All toil has ceased; relax at home.

Catullus claimed in his great tome
The "best of days" was this affair.
The cry of "Io!" resounds in Rome;
All toil has ceased; relax at home.
 

A Villanelle about a Villanelle

A taxing form of poetry, for sure!
A Villanelle's a challenge just to write
A structure with a stricture at its core!

Iambic meter (units five or four)
A rhyming scheme that never seems all right
A taxing form of poetry, for sure!

Refrains and rhymes and oddities galore,
A perfect way to gauge your mental might
A structure with a stricture at its core!

A quatrain last, and tercets five before
Define this piece of poetic delight
A taxing form of poetry, for sure!

You tend to get attracted more and more,
The deeper you descend within the plight:
A structure with a stricture at its core!

And never can this venture be a bore!
A pleasant read and interesting sight,
A taxing form of poetry, for sure!
A structure with a stricture at its core!
                 -- Bhaswar Dasgupta


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