Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Rik George writes

Villanelle for a Silver God

I made a silver god

and put it in a shrine.
I thought my work was good.

I made an altar of wood
and set it on the lawn.
I made a silver god

with eyes I painted red,
because I was alone.
I thought my work was good.

A priest came by and said,
when everything was done,
I made a silver god

because I was so bad.
I did not think I sinned;
I thought my work was good.

He was amazed, and mad
with faith, he burned my shrine.
I made a silver god.

I thought my work was good.

 Face of the Laughing Star God -- Bad-Sam


1 comment:

  1. Strictly speaking, a villanelle is a 19-line poetic form, five tercets followed by a quatrain, with 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. Slight alteration of the refrain line is allowed; and in recent prosody many structural variations have been introduced. It it is not connected with any particular meter, but in the 19th century most villanelles used either trimeter or tetrameter, and most 20th-century ones used pentameter. The word comes from the Medieval Latin "villanus" (farmhand), which became the Italian "villano" (peasant); a villanella was a rustic, ballad-like choral dance song with no fixed form. A vocal soloist would improvise the lyrics of each stanza, while a ring of dancers would join in on the repetitive words of the refrain. Jean Passerat's "Villanelle (J'ay perdu ma Tourterelle)" (1606) began its transformation into a regular, fixed form, though in an indirect sort of way. In 1680, César-Pierre Richelet published the first methodical French dictionary; im much the same way that Noah Webster's name became synonymous with American dictionaries in general, his name was frequently attached to other grammatical/lexicographical works, such as the earlier "Dictionnaire des rimes" (1667)Frere d’Ablancourt; Pierre-Charles Berthelin published later editions of that book, in which he identified the villanelle form. Théodore de Banville; in "Petit traité de poésie française" (1872), Théodore de Banville parodized the Passerat poem, leading Wilhelm Ténint, in "Prosodie de l'école moderne," his 1844 handbook of Romantic verse forms, to identify it as a Renaissance structure that de Banville had "revived." However, despite its Franco-Italian origins, it is really English prosody, developed by poets Edmund Gosse and Austin Dobson, followed by Oscar Wilde, Andrew Lang, John Payne, and others. Nineteen of these pioneers published 32 villanelles in Gleeson White's "Ballades and Rondeaus, Chants Royal, Sestinas, Villanelles, &c. Selected" in 1887 -- the real beginning of the Villanelle tradition, but it was associated with the overwrought "Decadent" formal aestheticism of the times, and thus disdained by the subsequent Modernists, despite James Joyce (who survived as a writer due to Gosse's efforts to obtain official financial support for him), who inserted “Villanelle of the Temptress” in his 1914 "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man":

    Are you not weary of ardent ways,
    Lure of the fallen seraphim?
    Tell no more of enchanted days.

    Your eyes have set man’s heart ablaze
    And you have had your will of him.
    Are you not weary of ardent ways?

    Above the flame the smoke of praise
    Goes up from ocean rim to rim.
    Tell no more of enchanted days.

    Our broken cries and mournful lays
    Rise in one eucharistic hymn.
    Are you not weary of ardent ways?

    While sacrificing hands upraise
    The chalice flowing to the brim,
    Tell no more of enchanted days.

    And still you hold our longing gaze
    With languorous look and lavish limb!
    Are you not weary of ardent ways?
    Tell no more of enchanted days.

    Since the 1930s, when William Empson reintroduced the form, it has been deftly used by poets such as W. H. Auden, Dylan Thomas, Theodore Roethke, Sylvia Plath, and Elizabeth Bishop.


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