Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Villanelle for the Un-Poet

Assignment: Write a poem, one even from the heart that feels conspicuously void of poetry. Write a villanelle, to be specific. And do it in the blogger window, straight into the screen, without worrying. Write a poem to put a piece of yourself on paper, even if it's incomplete.

Phew. Okay. I type this assignment to myself because I feel distinctly un-poetic these days. I can hear words whistle by but I can't catch them. My writer's net feels light, and empty, looking at the people and places in my life I want to give words to, and being lost. How do you write silence into being, the quick intake of breath when you watch the retreating figure? How do you put words to the aching swell of the violin? How do you slip the nervous heartfelt eyes of horses in between letters on a screen? 

I don't know how to do these things, and again and again I come back to words. Words as clean and clear as water. Words that lilt and dip like hummingbirds into honeysuckle. Words that spin constellations. 

Okay. A villanelle. I'm going to try!

The Sea

Write soft and slow, and let the words emerge,
and coax their music from its twilight cave.
The sea and stars and skies at once converge. 

Lean low and hear beneath the wind's slow dirge
a joyful whispered "praise" where wind meets wave, 
write soft and slow, and let the words emerge.

And here you sit, your hands washed in the surge
the water cool to touch, you find you're saved - 
for sea, and stars, and skies always converge.

Is there more to know? You ask, immersed.
To make the newborn poem whose words engrave -
write soft and slow, and let the world emerge?

Tread lightly now, tiptoe to the verge
and watch the trees quiver, bold and brave
the sea and stars and skies again converge.

Your heartbeat quick, you breathe the word, "diverse,"
and know the poem makes music from its cave.
Write soft, and slow, and let your words emerge, 
for sea and skies and stars touch, then, converge.

© Hilary Sherratt.

That was the first attempt! May poetry be near your heart, however un-poetic you may feel, dear friends. 



  1. i have a feeling you could not be un-poetic if you tried :-)
    that was beautiful.

  2. Way to set the bar higher than my hands can reach :-). I am working on learning that language is more than words, and words more than language. It is a funny little dance. I shall consider this post, dear friend, one chalked up for the wordsmiths in us!

  3. Wow, wow, wow, wow, and... can I say again... wow?!

    Absolutely beautiful. I want to hang a copy of it over my writing desk. Thanks for sharing that absolute beauty with us. <3


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