Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
           Villanelles can be quite discouraging; they look simple but are actually quite difficult. However, when mastered, it becomes “technically easy” according to Conrad Geller.  Just like riding a bike, right?  The name Villanelle is derived from the Italian villa, or country house, which is where aristocrats went to “refresh” themselves.  Strangely enough, the form is originally French and only appeared in the English language in the lat 1800s (19th century).  Out of the 19 lines in a Villanelle, only two rhymes are used.  Furthermore, two lines repeat throughout the poem; usually the first and last lines of the first stanza are repeated interchangeably throughout the second, third, fourth, and fifth stanzas (starting with the first line of the first stanza) until the last stanza where both are repeated in the same stanza.

          To continue your education on the structure of a villanelle, it is important to remember that the first five stanzas are to be triplets, while the last stanza consists of four lines - the last two lines of which are the first and third lines respectively of the first stanza, making a “rhymed couplet.”  If you’re feeling terribly confused, be sure to pay attention to the following good news:  A villanelle requires no particular meter or line length, therefore allowing you a little room to breathe by experimenting with the form.  Let’s go through this step by step.

          The first step you will need to take is to create a pair of rhyming lines that are your overall meaning.  These lines are what we refer to as a Basic Couplet, meaning two lines that rhyme with each other.    We will begin by using Dylan Thomas’ famous Villanelle, “Do Not Go gentle into That Good Night.”

                Do not go gentle into that good night
                Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

          After developing your two key lines, you must put in an un-rhymed line between the two.  By doing this, you will create the necessary “triplet” stanza.  Thomas puts, Old age should burn and rave at close of day, between the “main” lines as I refer to them.  Therefore, the first stanza will end up looking like this:

                Do not go gentle into that good night,
                Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
                Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

          The second stanza begins with a line that rhymes with the basic couplet.  The second line in this stanza, which will be your middle line, should rhyme with the second line of the first stanza. To complete the second triplet stanza, you must repeat the first line of the couplet as the last line in the second stanza.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right, (rhymes with the couplet)
Because their words had forked no lightning they (Rhymes with day ; middle line of first stanza)
Do not go gentle into that good night, (repeated first line of the couplet)

          As with the second stanza, you continue to do the same for the third.  You are to create a line that rhymes with the basic couplet, a line that rhymes with the second line - middle line - of the first stanza, but the last line of the third stanza will be the only line that is different than the second.  The last line of the third stanza is the second line of the couplet. Each line rotates throughout the poem;  the first line of couplet to the second stanza, the second line of couplet to the third stanza,  the first line of couplet to the fourth stanza, etc.  The rotation of the lines ends with the sixth stanza.

                Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright (rhymes with the couplet)
                Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, (Rhymes with middle line)
                Rage, rage agianst the dying of the light. (repeated second line of the couplet)

                Wild men you caught and sang the sun in flight, (rhymes with the couplet)
                And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, (Rhymes with middle line)
                Do not go gentle into that good night, (repeated first line of the couplet)

                Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
                Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
                Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

          The sixth stanza is the only stanza that has four lines in its stanza.  The Sixth stanza consists of a line that that rhymes with a couplet, a line the rhymes with the middle line of the first stanza, and the original couplet as the last two lines – all in order respectively.  Therefore, the last stanza of Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night looks like this:

                And you, my father, there on the sad height, (still rhymes with the couplet)
                Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.  (Rhymes with middle line)
                Do not go gentle into that good night, (first line of couplet)
                Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (second line of couplet)

          There you have it.  This is how you create a villanelle, step by step and rule by rule.  If you have any trouble, simply review the rules slowly and create your own villanelle step by step.
Thank you very much for reading. I encourage all of you to try this step by step and create a beautiful piece of work. Please, spread this resource around so that others may learn from it.

I really enjoyed writing this. It refreshed my own memory on the subject and stoked my desire to write a villanelle.

The poem used in this essay is the copyright of Dylan Thomas, but the essay itself is copyright by Joseph L.M. Sturm

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I received a DD! Wow, I'm so thrilled! :beer:

Take a look at some of my other tutorials:

:bulletred: Colons, Semicolons, and Hyphens
:bulletred: Apostrophes: Two commandments
:bulletred: Flashbulb Poetry: How to Write
:bulletred: How to Create Visual Poetry
:bulletred: The Acrostic Haiku
Add a Comment:
 

Daily Deviation

Given 2009-01-10
How to Write Villanelles by =Mattiello is an accessible, fun guide to writing what is perhaps the most difficult form in poetry. ( Featured by lovetodeviate )
:iconthewiress:
This guide is very well written and helpful to anyone who wants to know how to write in villanelle and knows how to read.

When I first searched "how to write villanelle", Mattiello's guide came up first and I didn't need to go to a different result to understand the form.

The guide is very concisely written and to the point. The guide isn't littered with confusing words and run on sentences. It gives an example and clearly labels lines to further explain how the form works.

The only thing I thing that would have improved the guide is having the whole poem written at the end since it was dissected throughout the rest of the guide.
What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
9 out of 9 deviants thought this was fair.

The Artist has requested Critique on this Artwork

Please sign up or login to post a critique.

:iconsereisa:
sereisa Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010
Thanks for the tutorial.. It's easy to understand. I will try to write a Villanelle this holiday.. Thanks...

:heart: :heart:
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2010  Professional Writer
Excellent. I'm glad you liked it and found it understandable. :D
Reply
:iconliara-mermaid-girl:
Liara-mermaid-girl Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2009
thank you so much! I have to write a villanelle for a project and this was the only set of instructions that made any sense! Thanks again.
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2009  Professional Writer
That is so wonderful to hear! I truly appreciate your compliment.
Reply
:iconhappysmittenemokid:
happySMITTENemoKID Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
i just completed my very first villanelle [link]
thank you very much for your guide, it helped me so much ^^;
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2009  Professional Writer
You gave me the link to my tutorial, but I found your piece anyway. You definitely have the rules down. :thumbsup:
Reply
:iconhappysmittenemokid:
happySMITTENemoKID Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
ohh sorry, my bad [link] THAT's the correct link ^^;
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2009  Professional Writer
:D Thanks. :D
Reply
:icondistantcricket:
distantcricket Featured By Owner May 22, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
I wrote the piece linked below using this tutorial.

[link]

Please come view it and let me know what you think.
Reply
:icondistantcricket:
distantcricket Featured By Owner May 26, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you :thanks:
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner May 24, 2009  Professional Writer
I certianly will!
Reply
:icontattoofuzzy:
tattoofuzzy Featured By Owner May 9, 2009
Awesome! You really broke it down and put it simply and built it back together easily. I liked it. I knda wish i had read this before i tried my hand at villanelles. Do you have one on terzanelles?
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner May 9, 2009  Professional Writer
I'm glad it helped so much.


You know, I've been thinking about writing a tutorial for the terzanelle. Would my writing one help you in any way?
Reply
:icontattoofuzzy:
tattoofuzzy Featured By Owner May 9, 2009
I've already written one. But if you did decide to write one that would give a quick reference to check for mistakes in my writing. Better than me flipping pages to find where i buried my copy of Lewis Turco's Terzanelle In Thunderweather.
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner May 9, 2009  Professional Writer
I'll have a look then. :D
Reply
:icontattoofuzzy:
tattoofuzzy Featured By Owner May 9, 2009
Sorry I don't have a less selfish reason.
Reply
:iconj-krumweed:
j-krumweed Featured By Owner May 1, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Hello! I faved and commented once, i think, on this and i finally used it!

and i'd like your critque on how i did my first time writing a villanelle.

[link]

and thank you! This tutorial was very helpful.
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner May 3, 2009  Professional Writer
I'll take a look and help you -- if you need it, that is.
Reply
:icondurloth:
Durloth Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2009
Hell, I thought I already left a comment for this great tutorial... *scratches head* seems I didn't.

Anyway, thanks so much for providing such great help. I finally gave it a try and it's really exactly as you said: It's difficult, but very fun to write them. The one I just wrote will definitely not be the last :D

Thank you :heart:
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2009  Professional Writer
I'll take a look then. :D

I love helping people. Keep a lookout for more tutorials!
Reply
:icononly-l:
Only-L Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2009   Writer
great help :heart:
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2009  Professional Writer
Thanks!
Reply
:iconimagirlnamedmichael:
ImAGirlNamedMichael Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hah! Excellent tutorial! I LOVE poetry, but I had no idea what in hell a villanelle was(hey...I might have the start of a couplet there)...and now not only do I know, but I must write one!

You should do an additional tutorial on writing a sonnet(I LOATHE them, in fact), because sonnets are the invention of the devil!
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2009  Professional Writer
Haha, perhaps I will. :D
Reply
:icondripping-leaf:
Dripping-Leaf Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2009
I have to do one of these for homework!
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2009  Professional Writer
Awesome! Well, here you go!
Reply
:icondripping-leaf:
Dripping-Leaf Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2009
Thank you so much! :hug: Even weirder is we are reading that poem too!
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2009  Professional Writer
haha! That is weird.
Reply
:iconautumn16solstice:
Autumn16Solstice Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2009
You mentioned one of my favorite villanelles. :)

And, I must say, you know the rules rather better than anyone else I know. I've been trying to understand the anatomy of villanelles for quite some time and almost can't say that I've read about them. This will surely improve my way of writing villanelles. And I thank you greatly for it.
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2009  Professional Writer
You're so very welcome!
Reply
:icondepressingstories:
depressingstories Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009
Oh, this comes in sooo much handy! You are a saint!
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2009  Professional Writer
A saint?!?! Oh my. Is that even possible? lol

Thank you so much - I'm glad you will be able to use it!
Reply
:iconzefiraelrain:
zefiraelRain Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
nice guide... though i think it might simplify things if you put an entire villanelle there so you can see the rhyming structure as a whole?
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009  Professional Writer
Perhaps I will. I'll put the one I've dissected at the bottom of the tutorial or even write one myself.
Reply
:iconkazumisangel:
kazumisangel Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009
Thanks! That makes it seem so much simpler! I've been wondering for a while what these wre, and now I can write one! I'm definitley going to try it out!

Congratulations onn the DD, by the way! :hug:
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009  Professional Writer
you're very welcome! When you do give it a try - let me know. Just send me a link, because I'd love to see it!
Reply
:iconshadow120000:
shadow120000 Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009
also:
structure
consists
experimenting
other
necessary
with
throughout
against
consists
villanelle
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009  Professional Writer
thanks.
Reply
:iconshadow120000:
shadow120000 Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009
whooooo... alot of typos -_-
frightening
derived
appeared
rhymes
interchangeably
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009  Professional Writer
I wrote it in about 10 minutes - so I would expect some. Thanks for pointing them out. :D
Reply
:iconshadow120000:
shadow120000 Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009
ahaha nooo np :D
i was just bored. and yah. xD
i'm weird -_-
xDD
but still GREAT WORK !
ima try it :DD
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2009  Professional Writer
Great - I hope you do!
Reply
:iconemosunshinemuffin:
EmoSunshineMuffin Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009  Student Writer
fantastic work, typo in the description "recource" should be "resource" : ] gratz !
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009  Professional Writer
Thank you! I'll fix it right away.
Reply
:iconemosunshinemuffin:
EmoSunshineMuffin Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009  Student Writer
no problem : ]
Reply
:iconflying-glove:
Flying-Glove Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009   Traditional Artist
Thank you, you've inspired the poet within me!
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009  Professional Writer
I'm glad I was able to! Be sure to take a look at my other tutorials if you are interested.
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×

:iconmattiello: More from Mattiello



Featured in Collections

Helpful Guides by LitterBugs

Literature Resources by mode-de-vie

Writing Tutorials and Resources by akkajess


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
June 18, 2008
File Size
7.7 KB
Thumb

Stats

Views
18,233 (2 today)
Favourites
251 (who?)
Comments
240
×