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Eviction: a villanelle

by DJC 

Posted: 12 January 2006
Word Count: 168
Summary: The final draft.
Related Works: Avalanche training • 

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Eviction: a villanelle

They’ll drag us from our house today
me and the kids, put shutters on our door;
but part of me still living wants to stay.

Because there are some problems round our way
and Stevie and the lads doss on the floor,
they’ll drag us from our house today.

It hurts me when I’m called an easy lay
and kiddies laugh and shout 'your mum’s a whore',
but part of me still living wants to stay.

You see I have a hundred bills to pay
and nippers as they grow want more and more.
They’ll drag us from our house today.

If only for an hour I had my say
I’d say we’re not all bad, not to the core.
That part of me still living wants to stay.

I haven’t seen the boys at all today:
I’m not surprised, they must know what’s in store.
They’ll drag us from our house today –
but part of me still living wants to stay.

January 2006

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Comments by other Members

joanie at 10:43 on 12 January 2006  Report this post
Hi DJC. Excellent villanelle! It doesn't seem at all forced, which is the key, I think. I like the use of straightforward language here; this sort of conversation would naturally have lots of repeated phrases, so it works well in a villanelle. Good choice of topic!

I wondered why you have chosen to have one of the key lines with only eight syllables rather than the ten of the other lines. I suppose you could have something like "They’ll come and drag us from our house today." if you wanted to.

I just love trying different forms. I enjoyed it.


DJC at 12:21 on 12 January 2006  Report this post
Thanks, Joanie - this is the first time I've tried a villanelle and I have to say I really enjoyed the challenge of using ordinary language and subject matter with a traditional form. I chose the first line with fewer syllables as I felt it scanned better to begin with a spondee ('They'll drag') followed by three iambs, as they then link to the two iambs in the second line, thus creating a sort of pentameter. Having an extra iamb in there ('come and') would disrupt the rhythm, I think. So it kind of was done deliberately. Also I didn't want to stick to rigidly to a dum dee dum rhythm.

You can tell I'm an English teacher, can't you. I'm forever boring my kids with difference between iambs, trochees and anaepests!! And don't get me started on punctuation in poems...

joanie at 14:08 on 12 January 2006  Report this post
It's excellent doing these, isn't it? I love the rigour of form and the fact that you can play about with it anyway if you want to! Come on, what's your next one going to be??


Brian Aird at 14:32 on 12 January 2006  Report this post
You made that look easy (and I've also done my first Villanell recently 'Candle, candle burding bright' - so I know its not).

Didn't know you were an English Teacher - that explains the way you get quickly to the point when critiquing. A skill I'm still learning.

I enjoyed reading it and, I don't go counting meter as a rule. I just read and if it gets digested whole then it works for me. I know others like it mathematical, but the way the words feel in the mouth is more important to me.

A very fine piece.

As Joanie says - what's next?


DJC at 15:46 on 12 January 2006  Report this post
The pressure! I have a short story I've recently written I'd like to submit ('splitter!' I hear you cry), but I'd like to keep the pressure on myself to continue trying out new poetic forms. So perhaps a sonnet next. We'll just see what happens.

I agree with you, Brian, about how the words feel in the mouth - the whole counting metre thing often happens after it's written, and you begin to tweak things. But the initial drafting process is very much a 'suck it and see' approach, as I'm rubbish at maths. Rubbish.

joanie at 16:21 on 12 January 2006  Report this post
What sort of sonnet?


DJC at 17:25 on 12 January 2006  Report this post
A fairly loose one, although it's about the mental deterioration of an elderly friend called Elizabeth, so maybe something Elizabethan in structure - thinking of calling it 'Elizabeth Sonnet'. Have done a rough draft, but it needs some work!

paul53 [for I am he] at 08:09 on 13 January 2006  Report this post
As Joanie said, it doesn't look forced. When I tried one, the straining scaffolding was evident. Creating a passable villanelle is quite an achievement. Did it - as many like to say about it - "obssessive" or "stirring the emotions"?
Dylan Thomas is usually cited, but check out William Empson as well if you already haven't.
Well done.

DJC at 13:59 on 13 January 2006  Report this post

'It is the pain, it is the pain endures.'

What a great villanelle repeating line! Having a line which repeats within the line is even more brave. I must check out some more Empson.

tinyclanger at 14:06 on 13 January 2006  Report this post
Hi Darren,
On the whole I think this is excellent...I think I'm with Joanie on the syllable count...although the shorter line fitted very well in stanza one, it did jolt me when I was reading the rest. But I understand your reasons..

Your language and tone is just about perfect, it matches normal speech patterns seamlessly and the end rhymes give a very natural rhythm and pace.

Super! Look forward to your sonnet if it can match this!

DJC at 16:08 on 13 January 2006  Report this post
Thanks, TC - I'm struggling with it now, but am also trying to work out the mirror poem on the seminar. At least it keeps me out of trouble...

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