13. Villanelle

The villanelle is another beautiful French poetic form. I barely encounter forms which make use dominantly of tercets instead of the usual quatrains. You’d think because a tercet is composed of three lines that it would sound uneven or jarring, but it isn’t. It mightn’t be the form, much less the poet him/herself, that makes it so.

The structure of a villanelle is a bit complicated. It is made of 19 lines divided into 5 tercets and 1 final quatrain. It’s usually in tetrameter or pentameter, but I don’t see anything wrong with noncomformity to this. The villanelle also makes use of 2 refrains that — in the least poetic sense — meet at the end.

It’d be harder to try explaining the frame of it in a paragraph so I’ll just use a diagram:

A1
b
A2

a
b
A1

a
b
A2

a
b
A1

a
b
A2

a
b
A1
A2

The Phantom Hour

You will not hear the ticking clock,
For hath the phantom hour loom—
As the frigid air stirs and flocks.

I hear the vi’lent click. A lock.
All sounds succumb to the raucous boom.
You will not hear the ticking clock.

The shadows one cannot outwalk—
In fear and gloom, they loom and bloom,
As the frigid air stirs and flocks.

Where yon might lie in satin frock,
In barren and desolate room—
You will not hear the ticking clock.

The raven squawks its final squawk,
And falls to the ground—we presume—
As the frigid air stirs and flocks.

Run from Death—to hills and boondocks—
He’ll find you in the spumes and flumes!
You will not hear the ticking clock.
As his frigid hands stir and flock.

One Single Impression

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13 thoughts on “13. Villanelle

    • We can never seem to escape from phantoms.
      “The shadows one cannot outwalk—
      In fear and gloom, they loom and bloom”
      These lines express the inevitability quite well.
      Thanks for enlightening us about villanelle.

  1. I love it! :) Really scary, the whole way through, for me!
    I like to try new forms. My working wouldn’t and couldn’t
    be this good though. The repitition of the clock added to
    the effect.
    ..

  2. Rigel,

    An amazing piece of poetry, with a wondeful rhythm. Full of a kind of panic with the ticking of time and the arrival of the end…..

    Eileen

    Thank you for your kind comments at my poem.

  3. Pingback: 41. Gothennet « Poeformology

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