My first villanelle

I was playing around the other night trying to write a villanelle. Doing so is, of course, far harder than proper poets like Dylan Thomas make it look, but I managed, in the end, to come up with something that fits the form. It’s not a great poem but the writing of it amused me and I enjoyed working within the limits. Because I am myself, it owes more than a little to folk songs: there’s a touch of The Banks of the Nile in there as well as the age-old trope of love abandoned. And roses. For ever and for always, roses, sweet and sharp.

The Sweetest Rose

I plucked a rose my lover to adorn,
The fairest flower that grows upon the tree,
The sweetest rose that has the sharpest thorn.

My mother once of false love did me warn:
A soldier’s heart is never true, said she.
I plucked a rose my lover to adorn.

My mother’s words I laughed away to scorn,
Watching love swell as rosebuds on the tree:
The sweetest rose that has the sharpest thorn.

This morning came the sounding of a horn:
The queen has summoned her brave company.
I plucked a rose my lover to adorn.

She snaps her fingers. From my arms he’s drawn
Eager to serve another mistress – she
The sweetest rose that has the sharpest thorn.

Her company sets sail in the cold dawn
As, chilled, I watch love dwindle from the quay;
I plucked a rose my lover to adorn
The sweetest rose that has the sharpest thorn.

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11 Responses to My first villanelle

  1. Pingback: Villanelles And Story Structure | The WR(ite) Blog

  2. Pingback: Two triolets | Folksong and Fantasy

  3. That is lovely, W.R.Gingell. I didn’t know it: thank you for the link.

  4. Pingback: She waits as shadows fall | Jane Dougherty Writes

  5. Lovely result for such a constraining form. I’ll have a go just for the challenge. If I succeed I’ll post it. Don’t hold your breath though.

  6. W.R.Gingell says:

    Oh, I like that! I don’t know what a villanelle is, but I like the cyclic feel to it with the fragments from the first verse cropping up again in later verses. It’s like the poetic version of climbing roses, tendrils curling in and out of each other.

    • Thank you! I’m glad you liked it.
      A villanelle is a six stanza poem with five tercets and a quatrain, and the rhyme scheme (let’s get this right!) A1bA2 abA1 abA2 abA1 abA2 abA1A2. A well known example is Thomas’ ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’, link above.

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