I have few precious words to grind,
to work through meaning cold lips deny.
It's time, you said; you changed your mind.
I urge you stay. You rush to go, to put behind
my mourning long from quick goodbyes
that leave no precious words to grind,
to parse how love could track so blind
and barbed to make me red- and redder eyed.
It's time, you said; you'd changed your mind,
found others do where no oaths bind.
To me your promise once gave lie,
such precious word I grieve to grind.
No riddle solved, no reason find.
This heart you took and broke; but why?
It's time, you said; I've changed my mind.
From you I turn; I speak, unkind.
This bitterest root I plant yet cry,
Leave me some precious words to grind.
No time, you said; I've changed my mind.
© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas
Audio Recording of Few Precious Words to Grind ~ A Villanelle by mdoallas
Direct Link to Audio : http://soundcloud.com/mdoallas/audio-recording-of-few (If necessary, copy the link into your browser and you should be able to go directly to the audio track.)
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This month, Every Day Poems, the five-day-a-week poetry daily from T.S. Poetry Press, is exploring the villanelle, a 19-line poem with two repeating rhymes and two refrains. It comprises five tercets (three-line stanzas) and a culminating quatrain (four-line stanza). The first and third lines of the first stanza alternate as the last line in the second through fifth stanzas; in the quatrain, they serve as the two concluding lines (couplet). The structure as shown here is one of the more readily graspable. (Search the term on Google and you'll get hundreds of thousands of hits, a few outstanding; some convoluted in their explanation of the form.) In his post "I See You in There: the Villanelle", David Wheeler shows us the way, offering his own humorous "VaudeVillanelle".
Among the most famous examples of the form are Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" and Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art". A wonderful contemporary practitioner of the form is Louisiana Poet Laurate Julie Kane (see her Rhythm & Booze), about whom I wrote here.
I decided to try the form (and no, I don't think it's easy!) and admit to taking liberty with the phrasing of the refrains; I'm not one for rigidly following anything, and to my mind, the variations I use for the refrain work to the poem's advantage. But you let me know.
A note on my use of the word "grind": I use its meaning here in the sense of belaboring, or studying laboriously, to try to figure out something that basically cannot be reduced to words nor, therefore, to understanding. Falling in and falling out of love are certainly in the category of tough-to-explain, let alone understand. It seems with this subject, you just know, one way or the other.
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