Celebrating Poetry and the Villanelle

April is National Poetry Month and so, of course, I could not allow the month to begin without writing a blog post that contains a poem. I wrote this poem a while back while I was experimenting with different poetic forms. But this is not just any poem, you see, this is a villanelle. What is a villanelle, you ask? (Admit it, you really, really want to know.) Thanks for asking!

A villanelle is a nineteen-line poem usually written in iambic pentameter (a ten-syllable line of poetry with the stress on every other syllable). It consists of three tercets (three-line stanzas) and one quatrain (a four-line stanza) in which the entire first line is repeated as lines 6, 12, and 18 and the entire third line is repeated as lines 9, 15, and 19 so that the lines that frame the first tercet weave throughout the poem like refrains in a song and form the end of the concluding stanza. There are only two rhymes in the entire poem, and it is considered one of the most difficult forms of poetry to write well. The most famous villanelle is probably “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas, which contains the famous line, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” My favorite is Sylvia Plath’s “Mad Girl’s Love Song,” because I have a teeny, tiny obsession with Sylvia.

Anyway, while I am certainly no Dylan Thomas or Sylvia Plath, here is my attempt, in my own quirky way, to write a villanelle. You have my permission to laugh. Out loud, if necessary.

Dieter’s Lament

There is nothing but lettuce on my plate,
Since tight-fitting clothes have ruined my day.
I wish I could fit into a size eight. 

Lettuce costuming is my game of late,
Romaine, bibb, iceberg dressed three dozen ways.
There is nothing but lettuce on my plate.

I yearn for thinness to be my true fate, 
But chewy fudge brownies stand in my way.
I wish I could fit into a size eight.

Tasty low-cal meals I strive to create,
But salad is starting to taste like hay.
There is nothing but lettuce on my plate. 

I would scrape away the fat that I hate, 
If only my stomach were made of clay.
I wish I could fit into a size eight.

Someday I hope to be proud of my weight,
To be thin once more I constantly pray.
There is nothing but lettuce on my plate,
I wish I could fit into a size eight. 

So there you have it. My attempt at one of the most difficult forms of poems to write. And no, I don’t really want to fit into a size eight (my skeleton wouldn’t even fit into a size eight!) but there weren’t enough words to rhyme with the word twelve. That’s why I keep my poetic license up to date at all times. Happy National Poetry Month!

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