Villanelle Unveiled

I wrote a villanelle. Three actually, but the one I’m going to post is the only one I really like. This form was making me neurotic, I swear. I didn’t want to write it because I felt I would fail miserably. (Free verse is the only kind of poetry I’ve ever done, after all.)

But it wasn’t letting me rest either. I just had to write it, the weight of it was getting unbearable.

So after three tries, this is what materialized. Criticism is more than welcome, but please be gentle. I don’t want my first born to be slaughtered just yet.


Oh, curse the power that put me to sleep

While the lady in the apron stood at the shore,

“Here’s a warning, darling, don’t go in too deep.”


I gave the ocean all my treasures to keep.

But the lonely fisher-boy evened his score.

Oh, curse the power that put me to sleep.


What you sow, the others will reap,

the waves came whispering at my door.

“Here’s a warning, darling, don’t go in too deep.”


Once, the moon was a hurdle for my sheep.

Now, it rules the tides that crash and roar.

Oh, curse the power that put me to sleep.


Don’t take me down to where the weeds creep.

Don’t push me to mend what the wind tore.

“Here’s a warning, darling, don’t go in too deep.”


I ran to where my dreams lay in a heap.

I sorted them, put them back in my store.

Oh, curse the power that put me to sleep.

“Here’s a warning, darling, don’t go in too deep.”


P.s. Changes have been made after applying the constructive criticism given by Marie.

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15 thoughts on “Villanelle Unveiled

  1. beautifully writte! nice work

  2. kvennarad says:

    The villanelle is a very difficult form to master. I’ve been writing poetry, both formal and free, for some time, and I haven’t yet written a successful villanelle. So first of all, kudos for even attempting it.

    When I read a poem my first thought is always “Does it work as a poem?” Never mind the criteria of the form, whatever it may be. This one does, it has something. As a villanelle, well, surely the second lines throughout the poem should rhyme?

    I’m not to happy with the construction “where the weeds do creep” in line 13. The insertion of the word ‘do’ (‘did’ too) stands out like a sore thumb these days, and is usually seen as a way of forcing a rhyming word to the end of a line; in this case it seems to be grammatically unnecessary. One or two lines seem to have an uncomfortable, broken rhythm to them; for example: “Across the creek, my dreams lay in a heap” (line 16).

    There is nothing wrong with this poem that a little polishing wouldn’t set right. I think these days, with strictly formal poetry, one needs to attend to its flow. Metricality in poetry was originally based on the natural rhythms of everyday speech, and I think it is possible to express things in one’s natural voice and still come up with something that flows well. Your talent is undeniable, and I think you are capable of doing this.

    Sorry for coming across like a schoolteacher – it’s the editorial side of me coming out.

    Marie Marshall

    • Maryam says:

      I can’t thank you enough for taking out so much time to critique my piece, and I value every bit of it.

      This was my first attempt and it is far from perfect, but I’m willing to work hard to make it better.

      I agree with all that you have said regarding the issues with rhyme and balance in a few lines. I will definitely revise them.

      Once again, thank you so much for this comment. I greatly appreciate it!

      • kvennarad says:

        I’ve had a look at the changes. They do bring the poem closer in form. The main thing to ask yourself is are you happy with it as a work of art; if you are, then bask in that satisfaction. Always keep in mind that form is a good servant but a bad master and you won’t go far wrong. 🙂

  3. Eddie says:

    Ok I am not much of a ‘form of poetry’ person. I mostly concentrate on how well the idea is portrayed and i think this one is brilliant. Kudos.

  4. asoulwalker says:

    Format can be as liberating as it is constricting.

  5. willowdot21 says:

    OH! I love that it is so spooky and dream like bravo!!


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