Poetic Form Described by The Academy of American Poets:
“The highly structured villanelle is a nineteen-line poem with two repeating rhymes and two refrains. The form is made up of five tercets followed by a quatrain. The first and third lines of the opening tercet are repeated alternately in the last lines of the succeeding stanzas; then in the final stanza, the refrain serves as the poem’s two concluding lines. Using capitals for the refrains and lowercase letters for the rhymes, the form could be expressed as: A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 A2”
The most famous example of villanelle is Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that good night”
Read it here, or click the play button below to hear it read by Jonathan Pryce.
Villanelles can be useful because the repetition of refrains allows the poet to explore or transform the meaning of the refrain throughout the process of the poem.
Use two quotes from the seminar or readings provided for the seminar to inspire a villanelle poem.
(I will be updating this page with potential quotes throughout the day, but please feel free to draw inspiration from anywhere!)