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Saturday, October 17, 2015

On struggling to be inspired instead of jealous... Two villanelles - a famous one by Dylan Thomas, and my first!

I have been enjoying visiting a lot of writers' blogs recently.

I'm finding some startlingly high quality original writing... especially poetry. I say startlingly because I guess I had harbored the silly misconception that all the good stuff was to be found in print. No way! There's so much talent strewn around the web! It's really worth a good look around.

Personally, I have to tiptoe as I go, doing my damnedest not to wake the green-eyed monster. Jealousy has always been a pitfall for me. It's a character flaw, I guess... some psychological version of self-harm. I'm woefully prone to compare myself to others... and the outcome is rarely favorable. 

So yeah, I have a bit of a history of beating myself up over not being as talented or capable as people I admire. I'm doing better these days at keeping this pesky tendency in mind. I'm determined to marvel at others' skills without self-derision or resentment.

I used to always say, "Why can't I do that?" Now I'm replacing that hurtful old thought with "Why don't I try that?"

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so it's said.

Of course, the lion's share of crafting an appealing piece of writing (and especially, I'd say, an appealing poem) boils down to word choice. I'm just amazed at the caliber of some of the wordings I'm coming across, and it's most assuredly inspiring me to bring my own writing up a notch in this regard.

Another of the skills I find myself admiring in the poets I'm looking at lately is knowledge and application of some of the many many various established meters and forms. 

You know meter and form? Basically the physical characteristics different styles of piece - rhyme schemes, how some lines are repeated in some forms (e.g. refrains), number of syllables per line... there's a whole, like, science of how syllables combine, how they can be stressed or unstressed, long or short; there can be a long-short combo (a trochee) or a short-long combo (an iamb), and sequences of these combinations and so forth. Lines of verse can be analyzed by a system of scansion. I did a bit of that in school.

So as I'm seeing some poets using some forms that are interesting to me, I'm wanting to give them a try.

One form I've been intrigued by is the villanelle. 

Not only does the villanelle have a killer name, it also packs a powerful punch. Lines are repeated over and over... Well... Rather than telling you, I'll just show you. I bet you've heard this one.

"Do not go gentle into that good night" by Dylan Thomas

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.

See what I mean by packing a punch? Haha wow. 

Dylan Thomas is a pretty tough act to follow, but hey, if you can get him for an opening act, you're doing alright. Unless he's drunk.

And so. Without further ado. Here's my first villanelle:

"Birds forget to listen from singing so" 

Birds forget to listen from singing so.
Say what sage lesson we may take from these.
I’ll try to hear… and to learn what you know.

In one and out the other often go
Tales told as we busily shoot the breeze.
Birds forget to listen from singing so.

Fox bides until proud Rooster starts to crow,
Steals in and eats the little chickadees.
I’ll try to hear… and to learn what you know.

Try talking to Wind, once he’s set to blow;
Might as well take shelter and hold your peace.
Birds forget to listen from singing so.

Entrust a friend; don’t bother sharing though,
‘Til all spillings of her own secrets cease.
I’ll try to hear… and to learn what you know.

Let’s heed until we hear the rising dough,
The sprouting seed, the growing wooly fleece!
I’ll try to hear… and to learn what you know.
Birds forget to listen from singing so.

1 comment:

  1. I think anyone who has an ounce of creativity in their soul has the tendency to be hard on themselves. I know I am, probably way too hard. And everyone has that little green monster inside. It just makes you human. We all have to just keep at it and do our best. Sometimes you will get magical results, and other times you will fall flat. That is life.


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