Author Topic: Advice on writing the villanelle?  (Read 4981 times)

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Advice on writing the villanelle?
« on: May 14, 2014, 09:37:39 AM »
I've been doing my head in, trying to write a villanelle for the last couple of days - and to no avail. I just can't seem to make the form work. It's annoying me no end, and I know I'll have no peace until I wrote at least one half-decent villanelle.

Right now, all I've got is a rotten half-finished villanelle. Bugger the thing!

So... any of you great poets on here, and especially the ones who've conquered the bloody villanelle (I'm looking at you, Sio!), do you have any tips on how to go about composing this villain?

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Advice on writing the villanelle?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2014, 09:47:55 AM »
Unfair call! :o I've only ever written one and can't claim any great achievement, was merely satisfied I'd completed the damned thing. ???

Just to remind people of the form and constraints of a villanelle:

It's the repeated use of two lines, initially the first and third line throughout the total of 19 lines which make up the poem. The overall rhyme scheme is: aba aba aba aba aba abaa . The first line also appears on the 6th, 12th and 18th line, and the second line on the 9th, 15th and final line.


Villanelle . . . best I can suggest is find a rhyme that has plenty of companions and make sure your sentence/phrase can be expressed in different ways. :-\


For Constance

You cough and sniff to disguise the true emotion
when hushed tears fall with more eloquence,
but I appreciate your constant effort and devotion
regarding avoidance of a public commotion,
to protect me from the damning evidence.
You cough and sniff. To disguise the true emotion,
I too partake of the poison, a physickís potion
when I see you suffer sickly consequence.
But I appreciate your constant effort and devotion,
such masquerade, slicked thick  like lotion,
the tell-tale signs of an inner malevolence
you cough and sniff to disguise. The true emotion
swells within like surf will burst upon the ocean
on an incoming tide spumed with iridescence,
but I appreciate your constant effort and devotion
and just as the sea serves a moonlit notion
I am drawn to your pain and worldly ailments.
You cough and sniff to disguise the true emotion
but I appreciate your constant effort and devotion.

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Re: Advice on writing the villanelle?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2014, 11:14:45 AM »
Thanks Sio.

I've got about a thousand first lines, all of them equally useless.  ::)

I guess I'll just go back to struggling with the stupid thing until I show it who's in charge.  ;D

Offline Chizzy

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Re: Advice on writing the villanelle?
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2014, 11:41:09 AM »
I agree with 510. Like the triolet and the sestina, nailing your refrain words or lines before you get deeper into it will save you a huge headache later on. Good luck!
This is not an exit.

Offline Tom 10

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Re: Advice on writing the villanelle?
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2014, 12:20:04 PM »
This is another display of Siobhan's customary modesty.  I recall the villanelle she wrote and posted and I believe it was for the MWC Olympinks.  She wrote it in record time, then wrote a villanelle about the writing of the first villanelle.  She didn't count the second one, but I have a record of it, and this is her villanelle about writing a villanelle:

Itís a villanelle, for gawdís sake
and itís driving me mad.
You come up with a rhyme snake.
What of this are we to make
when it makes us sad Ė
itís a villanelle for gawdís sake.
Itís meant to give you brain-ache
even if youíre a smart lad,
you come up with a rhyme snake.
I let the words out and shake
them about, my bad?
Itís a villanelle, for gawdís sake,
which is pretty hard to take
if you aimed for feeling glad.
You come up with a rhyme snake
thatíll weave lines like a rake
on the dirt in the yard, a fad;
itís a villanelle. For gawdís sake
you come up with a rhyme snake.

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --


I was so impressed by Sio's feat of two villanelles in one day that I was moved to a villanelle to applaud her accomplishment:



Siobhan!  A 12 Hour Villanelle!

And youíre done! Iím mightily impressed!
Two villanelles is less than a day?
I concede that you are the best!

A villanelle? Sure, I'll give myself the test.
Give me a month or so, I say,
Now youíre done -- Iím mightily impressed!

Iíll kick your ass, I said in jest,
hopefully forgotten along the way,
I concede that you are the best!

So I start hiding rhymes in my vest
When I start on the way, hey!
Youíre done?  And Iím verily impressed.

This is a stanza meant to seem a fest
Of ideas for this in brilliant array,
Alas, I concede you write it best!

At your talentís heights Iím only a guest!
Iím still planning my villanelle, today,
And youíre done!  Iím verily impressed.
I concede you are the best!



Offline midnight candle

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Re: Advice on writing the villanelle?
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2014, 12:24:40 PM »
Here's a few villanelles from poetry challenge 13

http://mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=14981.0

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Advice on writing the villanelle?
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2014, 12:28:49 PM »
Lots of ones to raise a smile in that selection, Daryl. Thanks. :D

Offline midnight candle

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Re: Advice on writing the villanelle?
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2014, 12:30:02 PM »
Lots of ones to raise a smile in that selection, Daryl. Thanks. :D

Glad you said smile :D

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Advice on writing the villanelle?
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2014, 12:32:37 PM »
 ;D ;D ;D ;D

Offline CorneliusPoe

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Re: Advice on writing the villanelle?
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2014, 12:34:34 PM »
For forms I'm not comfortable with I use the most unglamorous approach imaginable. I use a spreadsheet. Numbers or Excel, whatever:

Time is lie told by the dyingRefrain 1 (A1)
Line 2 (b)
that flies in the face of our tryingRefrain 2 (A2)
I'm confused as for what we are vyingLine 4 (a)
Line 5 (b)
Time is lie told by the dyingRefrain 1 (A1)
Line 7 (a)
Line 8 (b)
Refrain 2 (A2)
Line 10 (a)
Line 11 (b)
Time is lie told by the dyingRefrain 1 (A1)
Line 13 (a)
Line 14 (b)
Refrain 2 (A2)
Line 16 (a)
Line 17 (b)
Time is lie told by the dyingRefrain 1 (A1)
that flies in the face of our tryingRefrain 2 (A2)

For a villanelle, your two refrains are essentially a strong rhyming couplet. Compose one. :)  Place them in their proper spots in your spreadsheet and flesh out your poem. Formal poetry(to me) follows more the traditional rather than the romantic notion of artistry. It's a craft. More work than wizardry, but great things can happen.


Sorry cant figure out how to show gridlines for the table :(
"Poetry is not speech raised to the level of music, but music brought down to the level of speech." - Paul Valery

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Advice on writing the villanelle?
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2014, 12:39:49 PM »
I don't use spreadsheets but I do bold and colour highlight in a similar way so I know where I'm at. ;)

Also do the same for stresses when I write iambic pentameter.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2014, 12:42:47 PM by 510bhan »

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Re: Advice on writing the villanelle?
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2014, 01:08:15 PM »
Thank you all! You're the best.
I knew I could count on you.  :-*

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Advice on writing the villanelle?
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2014, 01:22:16 PM »
Some good examples offered in Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villanelle

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Advice on writing the villanelle?
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2014, 01:23:17 PM »
Rhymezone is handy for finding rhymes. ;)

Offline CorneliusPoe

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Re: Advice on writing the villanelle?
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2014, 01:36:07 PM »
Rhymezone is handy for finding rhymes. ;)

Love that site. Has synonyms, near rhymes, related words, etc.
"Poetry is not speech raised to the level of music, but music brought down to the level of speech." - Paul Valery