Wednesday, March 22, 2006


I've been a bad blogger. I start half my posts like that, don't I? Once I'm done with school and out in the real world I will start none of my posts with that! Hopefully, at least. The past few days have been a blur of work, school, family, homework, a wake, more homework, a funeral, more family, more homework, tons of food ...

I'm trying not to be sad - I have a great family, and I cherish any time I get to spend with them - no matter how sad the occasion.

But on to the point of my post. The Villanelle. My husband did not know Theodore Roethke's "The Waking." I had to look up the right words and then read it to him. One of my favorite stanzas in all of poetrydom is:

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

In looking it up I discovered something fantastic. I've always loved the Villanelle (the form of poetry that "The Waking" is), but I've always thought that no one does it correctly. "The Waking" is fantastic, "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" (Dylan Thomas) is brilliant, but for the most part it just seems forced.

Quick Poetry 101:
A Villanelle requires a strict form of two lines repeating over and over again:

A1 (refrain)
A2 (refrain)

A1 (refrain)

A2 (refrain)

A1 (refrain)

A2 (refrain)

A2 (refrain)
/Poetry 101

As you can imagine, A1 and A2 often seem forced into place, just stuck in where they need to go because they need to go there, not because they work there. In finding "The Waking" I found also some other fantastic vilanelles that I never even knew existed which is odd because one of them is by Sylvia Plath - one of my favorite poets!

So - for further reading I want you all to read then comment on: "Mad Girl's Love Song" by Sylvia Plath, "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop, "Villanelle for D.G.B." by Marilyn Hacker, and (just to be moment appropriate) "Villanelle After A Burial" by Steven Cramer. If you haven't read them - feel free to also read "The Waking" and "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night."

And that's your homework for the night - if you choose to accept it!

1 comment:

Tabitha Dial said...

YAY!!! I wrote a parody of "Do not go gentle into that good night" which was about the college students' last semester. Unfortunately, that file's in Parker... Bleh...

I love "One Art" too. Nice post! YAY!!! Thanks for teaching 'bout the villanelle. It gives me chills. ;-)

Happy National Poetry Month.