Jan 10, 2008

Rapid Rhetoric: VILLANELLE

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Raphael's depiction of Plato defining the difference between true and false rhetoric This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

villanelle (vill-eh-NELL) n. a 19-line poem that consists of five tercets and a quatrain, with the first and third lines of the first tercet repeated alternately as a refrain closing the succeeding stanzas and then joined as the final couplet of the quatrain.

Derived from the feminine form of the Italian word villanella ("rustic"), the villanelle has its roots in traditional peasant dances that were accompanied by singing, in an era in which people did not concern themselves with items like HDMI switches. One of the most famouus English examples of the villanelle is the Dylan Thomas poem “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”:

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.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

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.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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