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Villanelle Update

File under the category of “Ooops”….
In class last night, I learned that I got the rhyme scheme in the villanelle wrong. Oops.
The teacher diagrammed a Villanelle for us like this:
A1
b
A2
a
b
A1
etc.
Now I, being a poetry newbie, interpreted the “A1” and “A2” as the refrains that had NO relation to the “a” of the rhyming scheme in the non-refrain lines. In my brain, the capital As with numbers where separate entities unto themselves.
Bad brain, bad brain on too much computer work….
It dawned on me slowly last night, while we were work shopping another classmate’s villanelle that the capital “A1” and “A2” of the refrain were to rhyme with the little “a”s of the main part of the poem. Oops.
The dawning of the realization that I had missed out on 50% of the villanelle’s form was rather like the time I was talking to my brother and he was telling me a long story about his friend “Jane” who was a dancer. Given that the story was mostly about her teenage kids, everytime my brother mentioned her dance career I envisioned that she ran a ballet studio for children. Over the course of the conversation, the realization that she was a dancer of another sort, the type who takes her clothes off in the course of dancing, came slowing over my consciousness rather like the sun creeping over the horizon slowing and then all the sudden SUN everywhere.
Last night was just like the conversation with my brother, after I realized that Jane was a stripper and that the Villanelle had a LOT more “a” rhyme than I put in it, I felt slow, naive, and rather embarrassed. At break I rushed over to the instructor, quickly explained my plight, and she appeared to have a moment herself. She didn’t realize that I, the student, did not already know that the captial A of the refrain and the minor a of the rhyme were not related.
My only defense of myself is that my education focused more on math classes where big As and little a’s had no numerical relational but were symbols for different ideas, and that sleeping through most of the required english classes as a teenager and college student has resulted in minor adult embarrassment. Oops.
Maybe not embarassment, but feeling silly in the midst of a paradigm shift that I assumed to be one way and folks who know poetry assume to be another way.

One Response to “Villanelle Update”

  1. Penny

    Hi, I happened onto your site while searching for the villanelle. I see you use a Black Phoebe. Tell me how you chose it? I spent a year observing the behavior of Black Phoebes from summer through their mating behavior and fledges. I have a poem if you accept them.
    Penny