March 25, 2009

Villanavel-Gazing (villanelle self-challenge)

After Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art"

The art of rhyming isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be made music by some clever bastard -

like love. And think, how sweet it is to pester
the minister of your heart's government
in rhyme - which truly isn't hard to master.

Rhyme "never" with "forever." Ever faster
the couplets come; they must be heaven sent!
"My God," you think, "I am a clever bastard."

But then, you come upon a winking jester,
who goads you to a villanelle attempt . . .
and, Jesus, that one sure is hard to master.

The gauntlet thrown, the challenge rankles, festers;
you haven't slept in days, you're shaking, spent -
Could it be you are NOT a clever bastard?

The pen flies at the wall. "O @#$%ing blast - !". . . Er,
forgive me, gentle reader. What I meant
's the art of rhyming isn't hard to master -
but that damned villanelle sure is a bastard.

It is worth noting that, about 3-4 years ago, I tried to write a serious villanelle. About love. And poetry. And bodies melting together into music and light and all that jazz. I spent about a month hacking away at it before I moved on to another poem. It was at least a year before I finally gave up on it and admitted defeat. Probably another year before it stopped bothering me.

I wrote this one in under 30 minutes.

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