B&P’s Shadorma and Beyond – The Villanelle – May 2, 2015


Hello Folks!

We’re smack dab in the middle of spring and I thought it’d be nice to visit an old friend; the Villanelle!

“A villanelle is an ancient Italian pastoral poem, probably originally from Sicily from around the 16th century.  French poets (and then English poets) picked it up in the 18th and 19th century but it never really made its splash until the 20th century when Dylan Thomas and others began to use the form.

The poem is composed of four tercets and then an ending closing stanza of four lines. The first and last refrains are repeated alternatively in the second, third and fourth tercet and then once again in the last stanza.  The first lines of the second through the fourth tercets and the beginning of the closing stanza must rhyme with the refrains … the second lines all throughout the poem rhyme with themselves … complicated to explain but easy to write, believe me … here’s a poem to get you started with color codes to show you how the refrains and rhymes work … there is no special meter or syllable count requirements”

An excellent example of the form is Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that good night”:

     Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

     Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

     Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

     Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

     Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

     And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Here’s a painting you might use as inspiration for the Villanelle or a Shadorma (a sextet) with a syllable pattern of 3/5/3/3/7/5:

Odilon Redon - Meditation -
Odilon Redon – Meditation

Feel free to write a shadorma and/or Villanelle and if you wish use your own artwork (or none at all), the choice is yours!

When you have written your poem(s), please TAG them B&P’s Shadorma & Beyond andMindLoveMisery’s Menagerie. Then add your link to the Mister Linky widget below.

Have a great week!  Ciao, Bastet


  1. […] This was quickly scribbled, and there’s more that could be done to it, but I just wanted to get it out since I have other things I should be doing. It is supposed to be a Villanelle (four tercets and a quatrain in a AbA2/abA/abA2/abA/abAA2) and the inspiration comes from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie and their B&P’s Shadorma and Beyond. […]


  2. Not fair! I don’t have time for this… *sigh* Ah, well… Just a quick one, then! *smile*


  3. This is the best example of how to write a villanelle yet. The colour code made such a difference. Even so I find them fiendishly difficult but I do like a challenge. Thanks for this one.


    • I agree with everything Rall said…the color code is so helpful….wish I’d had this when I was first trying this form and yes, “fiendishly difficult” is a perfect way to describe this…ugh….the villanelle is my nemesis 😛


      • My dear Bubbly … as I’m writing this, I’ve already read your finished result … one would never think that you’d found it fiendishly difficult … or difficult at all for that matter … of course it’s not a nursery rhyme … but the villanelle really is a wonderful challenge!


      • Oops — you’re right … so sorry! I’d just read her post (and commented there) and then saw the initials here on B&P’s prompt … I’m sorry you found it so difficult! :-/ … Jules says … once the first stanza is written just copy and paste the refrains in the right place and fill in the rest … makes it sound a lot easier 😉


    • Thanks Rall … I actually learnt this technique of colour-coding the prompts from a blogger called Cubby “Reowr”, who unfortunately doesn’t blog anymore … our Paloma also uses this technique and we’ve really found it useful, even to ourselves! Glad it could help you understand how to work with the villanelle, which I agree is fiendishly difficult – until of course one gets the knack of it … then it’s only difficult 😉


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