Donald’s Villanelle

The villanelle is a poetic form with its origins in Italian rustic song (‘villanelle’ deriving from the Italian word ‘villano,’ which means ‘peasant,’ or, perhaps, from ‘villa,’ Latin for ‘farm’). Speculation locates it in a tradition of ‘round’ songs (remember those from kindergarten?) sung to accompany the repeated rituals of agriculture: sowing and reaping.

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Jean-Francois Millet: Buckwheat Harvest: Summer; 1868-1870; pastel

It evolved into its present form in the 16th century, in French poetry. Throughout history and up to the present day, poets have been smitten with the villanelle, ensuring its ongoing evolution even as it resonates with echoes of the past.

Its structure is as follows:

  1. It is a poem of nineteen lines.

  2. It has five stanzas, each of three lines, with a final one of four lines.

  3. The first line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the second and fourth stanzas.

  4. The third line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the third and fifth stanzas.

  5. These two refrain lines follow each other to become the second-to-last and last lines of the poem.

  6. The rhyme scheme is aba. The rhymes are repeated according to the refrains.

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Donald’s Villanelle

I’ve done nothing wrong, you know
Russia, kickbacks, it’s all lies
I hope that you can let this go.

The fake news witch hunt, on it goes
Sad! Their whos and whats and whys
I’ve done nothing wrong, you know

There’s a high road, there’s a low
Drain the swamp and scrape the skies
I hope that you can let this go

Crooked H, bad hombres, foes
So-called judges, leaking spies
I’ve done nothing wrong, you know

Walls and tariffs, jobs and dough
You’ll tire of winning, all you guys
I hope that you can let this go

Believe me, time will tell and show
Great Again, Tremendous Size
I’ve done nothing wrong, you know
I hope that you can let this go

©Melinda Rooney, 2017

[I’m indebted to The Making of a Poem: a Norton Anthology of poetic forms; Mark Strand and Eavan Boland, eds. New York, W.W. Norton & Company; 2000.]

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