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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Bonecage"

This poem came out of the February 2, 2010 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from ladyqkat and sponsored by xjenavivex.  The villanelle form is one of my favorites.  This poem is for all the folks living in a body with aggravating limitations.

The Bonecage
-- a villanelle


I dream to slip the cage I can't disown:
The prison of my body holds me close,
A jail with walls of flesh and bars of bone.

The tyrant of my time is overthrown
And mutters in its bedclothes, comatose.
I dream to slip the cage I can't disown.

My life enfolds a soul that's overgrown
With keratin and nerve and adipose
A jail with walls of flesh and bars of bone. 

Yet still I fly by night; my wings intone
A song of skies flung wide and grandiose. 
I dream to slip the cage I can't disown.

My days are bound by obligations grown
Of loves and hates that make me bellicose,
A jail with walls of flesh and bars of bone.

Still, every night the chains of day are thrown
Beneath me as I rise, refreshed, jocose.
I dream, and slip the cage that is my own:
No jail can hold me with mere flesh and bone.

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16 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
ladyqkat From: ladyqkat Date: February 10th, 2010 05:28 am (UTC) (Link)
The tardiness of my thank you is only because this poem snuck in and touched me so deeply that I flailed in trying to pinpoint what emotion was invoked. And reading it again tonight, I finally realized that it was a cascade of emotions, rising and falling like a singer practicing scales.

So much range, so much richness of tone and I am still in awe of your talent and skill.

(Forgive me, I am, for whatever reason, verbose tonight.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 10th, 2010 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I am so glad that you appreciated this poem.

>>And reading it again tonight, I finally realized that it was a cascade of emotions, rising and falling like a singer practicing scales.<<

That's the effect I was aiming for. Yay!

Verbose is okay.
bellakara From: bellakara Date: February 10th, 2010 05:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I like this one very much and can identify a bit with the theme. The villanelle is a great form - I'm rather fond of sonnets too.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 10th, 2010 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm happy to hear that.

I love sonnets too. I wrote several sonnets this month, most of which have been published. (Most of everything has been published! There are only 5 poems left unsold.)
clarionj From: clarionj Date: February 10th, 2010 02:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, what a great use of the villanelle! I really felt those chains being thrown.

I tried a villanelle once. Once. (Don't ask.) The repeating lines are so important and yours work beautifully. Great sound throughout. And after the repetition of the bars of bones line, the last line comes as a striking and welcome variation!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 10th, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad this worked for you.

One of these days, I should write an article about how to choose an interlocking/repeating form. See, they all do different things. You write a villanelle when you have two brilliant lines, or when you start with one and you can think of another to go with it. Villanelles are like playing cat's cradle between those two lines. If you've only got one brilliant line, then you don't have a villanelle. You put that into a quatern or somesuch.

Two brilliant lines and a brief topic = triolet. Villanelles also call for a bigger or deeper topic, because you have a bunch of verses to fill.
clarionj From: clarionj Date: February 11th, 2010 01:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Thank you! I'm thinking you should write articles on choosing poetic form as well. I've a few books on forms, and some I found very helpful, but what you've said here about the villanelle has helped more than all I've read before. The idea of really having two great lines (rather than simply repeating a first, or a second), and playing cat's cradle between ... somehow that focused it for me. And yes, the idea of a bigger, deeper topic.

Seriously, thank you. I really want to try the form again, and I think I'll have a better approach this time around. And I think I need to wait until two great lines come to life in my head.
natf From: natf Date: September 15th, 2010 01:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

I would love to read this article! I have written less formal but repeating forms myself - a combination of free verse and repeating rhythm that I did not know there was a form name for. I have not studied poetry forms, merely written a lot of poetry (in years past - much less recently).
asakiyume From: asakiyume Date: February 10th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this is absolutely beautiful. I love the villanelle as a form, and this one of yours is lovely. I love the dual meaning of "I dream to slip the cage I can't disown"--as in, both dreaming in the sense of desiring to do so, and dreaming as a tool to do so.

Beautiful.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 10th, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

*grin* I love it when my readers detect the subtle infrastructure of my poetry. You are exactly right about that bifocal meaning.
From: mistrali1 Date: February 21st, 2010 02:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wow, I love this. I dream to slip the cage I can't disown is my favourite line (refrain? Sorry, I don't know the technical term).
I like the rhythm of this poem: it has a consistent 'beat', if that makes sense.

*runs off to read about villanelles*
I am going to write one of these as soon as I can; it'd make a nice change from my usual freeverse.
Thanks for sharing!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 21st, 2010 07:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>Oh, wow, I love this. I dream to slip the cage I can't disown is my favourite line (refrain? Sorry, I don't know the technical term).<<

I'm glad you enjoyed this! Yes, a refrain is a repeated line in poetry. I am very fond of repeating/interlocking forms. Villanelle is a favorite.

>>I like the rhythm of this poem: it has a consistent 'beat', if that makes sense.<<

I often use a strong, regular rhythm in my poetry. Most of my rhymed poetry also has a consistent meter like this. Sometimes with a villanelle I like to use one-syllable rhyme for the A or B lines, and two-syllable rhyme for whichever of those is left.

>>*runs off to read about villanelles*
I am going to write one of these as soon as I can; it'd make a nice change from my usual freeverse.<<

*chuckle* Careful, I may get you hooked on forms!

The trick to writing a good villanelle is to start off with two strong lines that you want to repeat as main ideas. Those are like your hands in a cat's cradle string game -- the rest of the poem will almost weave itself between them.

Some good resources for villanelles:
http://www.writing-world.com/poetry/villanelle.shtml
http://www.baymoon.com/~ariadne/form/villanelle.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villanelle
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/tool.poem.glossary.1.html?id=29
natf From: natf Date: September 15th, 2010 01:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

*clicks links* ;-p
natf From: natf Date: September 15th, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh gosh, yes. Thank you for pointing me to this. I am less physically disabled that I could be by the MS (although it is progressing), but I so often dream of flying/floating/air-swimming, psionics, cyber-telepathy and other abilities that do not need my body. If only.

Edited at 2010-09-15 01:53 pm (UTC)
Brian Miller From: Brian Miller Date: October 27th, 2012 01:54 am (UTC) (Link)

dverse

popping over from the link you left at dverse...enjoying the trip through your villanelles...nice on this one...i like the hope in rising toward the end...i was afraid for a bit that you were handicapped and trapped that way, nice on your refrain lines as well...you should pick one and drop it in the mr linky at dverse...might get a few more readers...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 27th, 2012 02:36 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: dverse

>>popping over from the link you left at dverse...enjoying the trip through your villanelles...nice on this one...<<

Thank you!

>>i like the hope in rising toward the end...i was afraid for a bit that you were handicapped and trapped that way, nice on your refrain lines as well...<<

My body has its limits, but not in the configuration of conventionally recognized handicaps. I know other people who are worse off.


>> you should pick one and drop it in the mr linky at dverse...might get a few more readers...<<

Done, thanks. I hadn't seen that part.
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