Writing Prompt, 5th February – Villanelle, you should try it, once!


Greetings, everyone!

To cut to the chase, this week we will pursue a poetic challenge. The glorious form of Villanelle! Like the title of my prompt says, you should try it, at least once!

What is a Villanelle?

A villanelle  is a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets followed by a quatrain. There are two refrains and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first tercet repeated alternately until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines.

To put it more plainly, it is a poetic form, with repetition of stanzas. The villanelle is known to inspire the reader to think and feel of repetitive, even delirious things, that captivate us, enchant us, in good and both ways. The repetition scheme of the villanelle tends to sound very enchanting and magical.

Some of the most famous villanelles are Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas, and Mad Girl’s Love Song by Sylvia Plath.

Here is the illustration of the pattern of the form from Wiki

Refrain 1 (A1)
Line 2 (b)
Refrain 2 (A2)
Line 4 (a)
Line 5 (b)
Refrain 1 (A1)
Line 7 (a)
Line 8 (b)
Refrain 2 (A2)
Line 10 (a)
Line 11 (b)
Refrain 1 (A1)
Line 13 (a)
Line 14 (b)
Refrain 2 (A2)
Line 16 (a)
Line 17 (b)
Refrain 1 (A1)
Refrain 2 (A2)

Personally, when writing a villanelle I found that pre-writing the pattern into my Notepad document helps a great deal. I later on replace the letters with my stanzas.

This form is very challenging, but also one of the most rewarding I found. I do not think any other formal form of poetry ever before made me feel so enchanted and lured by the result. This is why I call this the form you should try, at least once!

At last, if the pattern is too confusing, here is another villanelle you can use as a blueprint or guideline:

One Art
Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.Lose something every day. Accept the flusterof lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.Then practice losing farther, losing faster:places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, ornext-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

As you can see from my example, the form allows for creativity and manipulation, even within what appears its rigorous forms. So do not be afraid to twist, turn, experiment.

I hope you take this challenge and I hope you enjoy writing it! When you are done posting, please link up/pingback and remember to tag your post with MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie, villanelle, form poetry, prompt and similar.

I am really looking forward to reading all the entries and I am here for all your questions and encouragement!

Have fun!



  1. Oh, I have done a Villanelle – once… (and that is once to many for me, hee he)
    Let me see if I can find it. Quick search came up empty – which means I may not have tagged it…and I might, might have to try again. Ugh.
    Maybe tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

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