As I am, so shall you be (villanelle)

I know this blog has wandered a long way from folk songs and from fantasy. I’m still listening to the former and blocked on the latter. Now, and for the foreseeable future, I’ll be posting the odd (very odd?) poem here, when I can manage them.

I read somewhere that villanelles started off as a comic form. This one isn’t laugh-out-loud funny but I did intend it to have a black humour about it. The refrain, As I am, so shall you be, is a fairly common momento mori on old gravestones, though my narrator isn’t yet quite in her tomb.

As I am, so shall you be

‘Smile,’ you say, ‘and look at me!
I’ll take a picture of this time.’
As I am, so shall you be.

You do not care for what you see –
I’ve heard you – Sadly past her prime!
‘Smile,’ you say, and look at me,

Seeing a second infancy,
Foolish, withered, hoared with rime.
As I am, so shall you be,

And, once, you looked quite differently:
‘Again!’ you’d beg. ‘Please! One more time!’
Smile? you say. And? Look at me,

Child, who once sat on my knee
Gumming and babbling an old rhyme:
As I am, so shall you be.

‘Here’s the picture – can you see?
A lovely record of our time.
Smile,’ you say, and look at me.
As I am, so shall you be.

 

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