Villanelle poem – Once Upon a Time
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Once Upon a Time
Theresa Barker
In honor of the Dakota Access Pipeline Resisters

Once upon a time
There was a girl
In the Black Hills

The girl who called coyotes
and hunted turquoise eyes
once upon a time.

She came to the prairie
in the middle of winter
in the Black Hills.

She built a hut of thorns
with bloodied fingers
once upon a time.

With her emerald-fire eyes
she made kin with crows
in the Black Hills.

The forest consumed her
and she gave birth to the trees,

Once upon a time
in the Black Hills.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

I wrote this villanelle last week as a writing exercise for myself. Today I was talking with my writing friend and blogger Miriam of Showers of Blessings blog, who stretched herself and wrote a Pantoum this week.  She said she’d like to try a villanelle! So, I’m sharing this poem as an example.

What is a villanelle?  You poets out there already know this, but it’s a form that repeats certain lines – line 1 and line 3 in the first stanza become the ending lines in each of the following stanzas, alternating stanza by stanza.  The last two lines in the poem are just those two lines.

Click here for an explanation of how to write the villanelle.  Don’t forget, you can slightly alter the repeated lines to fit how you want the poem to be.

One of my favorite villanelles is Theodore Roethke’s “The Waking.”  It is so lovely.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go. . . .

If you have never read Roethke’s poem, you should!  Click on this link.

Happy poeming!

18 thoughts on “Villanelle poem – Once Upon a Time

  1. The poem is beautiful Theresa. I can see why you love poetry so much, obviously because of the power of words as a bridge to emotions, but all of the structure in the different poetry styles must really appeal to the mathematician. What an incredible thing poetry is to connect both the left and right side of the brain. Poetry is miraculous! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tami, thank you for your comment! Ah! I had not thought about the mathematical side, but that definitely is there. Somehow the creativity comes out where there are mathematical puzzles involved. And – not unlike your own mindful mandala project? Maybe? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmmmm there’s something to think about – I would never say I am a fan of math, but crochet is full of mathematical puzzles, problems, patterns, geometry. Perhaps I do like math. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I am delighted that you let me know you wrote a Villanelle – and I saw that you also made a little educational piece afterward, to share the info with your community. Congrats on being courageous enough to try something new and challenging. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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