Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Villanelle


Let joyful thanks forever now be given!
We banish all fear at the birth of love.
Friend Jesus comes to us from highest heaven.

What once was wretched, torn and shriven
finds comfort and healing here from above.
Let joyful thanks forever now be given!

This tender babe so soon hard striven
bold angels bend low, with joy, to speak of;
Friend Jesus comes to us from highest heaven.

And all for us to be forgiven
the grime, the rot, the grit we're free of;
Let joyful thanks forever now be given!

The dark of night far far is driven,
But soft the cooing of the dove.
Friend Jesus comes to us from highest heaven.

The stars a royal cloak fresh woven
to praise our dear - we do belove!
Let joyful thanks forever now be given
friend Jesus comes to us from highest heaven.

-Andromeda Jazmon

After working on the villanelle with the Poetry Seven last week, I have the form on my mind and couldn't let go of it. In order to celebrate finishing a very difficult semester in grad school I dove into working on another villanelle this week.

The form comes from nineteenth century France, and is described on Wikipedia in this way:

"The highly structured villanelle is a nineteen-line poem with two repeating rhymes and two refrains. The form is made up of five tercets followed by a quatrain. The first and third lines of the opening tercet are repeated alternately in the last lines of the succeeding stanzas; then in the final stanza, the refrain serves as the poem's two concluding lines. Using capitals for the refrains and lowercase letters for the rhymes, the form could be expressed as: A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 A2."

In order to write a villanelle I used a table created by Trisha in Google docs., with the repeating lines and rhymes indicated to remind me of the pattern. I felt the song quality of the form went nicely with Christmas carol traditions, so for this poem I decided to focus on the birth of Christ. The repeating lines echo for me Psalm 136:1, "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting."

Once I had the theme I worked on the repeating lines of the couplet and looked for good end words that would carry the theme and offer useful rhymes. I use Rhymezone to make a list of end words that fit my message, and then go to work crafting and revising the rest of the lines.

I wanted the poem to follow the gospel message that Christ came to us from God as a gift of love and grace, to heal the world and bring us full and joyful lives. A villanelle can follow a rising and falling storyline that fits this conflict/resolution path well, so it was very satisfying.

The final step for me is to match a photo with the poem. The one above is the creche I put up for my boys every year. They enjoy moving the characters around to retell the story.

You can find much more poetry linked at the Friday Poetry roundup today at Random Noodling. Enjoy!


laurasalas said...

What a great way to reward yourself, Andi!

I love the joy that shines through in this favorite lines are

The dark of night far far is driven,
But soft the cooing of the dove.

And my very favorite:

The stars a royal cloak fresh woven

That is glorious!

Jules at 7-Imp said...

So joyous!

Mike said...

Lovely poem--and so perfect for Christmas.

I hope you have a restful and relaxing semester break.

Elaine Magliaro said...


That last comment was mine. I was using my husband Mike's laptop.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

LOL Thanks Elaine! I was wondering who the new poetryMike was. I did the same thing this morning, commenting on a colleague's blogger ID. How embarrassing!

Thanks for all these lovely comments. I'm so glad you saw the joy everyone!

Mary Lee said...

Thanks for the inside scoop on the creation of your villanelle! I love hearing about the process as I read, re-read, enjoy and appreciate the product!

Scriptor Senex said...

Poetry is an art-form I've never managed to create. You have my admiration!

Anamika Joshi said...

loved the poem.....its simply lovely & sweet...I am on with a book - Christmas In Rhyme which I recently bought online frm A1Books..this short poem of yours reminded me of that book..Keep it going!!!