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It Takes 19 Lines to Build a Villanelle

Today is the 19th, which is another wonderful opportunity to post a villanelle. This one’s pretty famous, as the biographical note accompanying The Bell Jar often includes it. I’m a big fan of Plath’s work and of villanelles, and this one’s a doozy, so here we go:

Mad Girl’s Love Song

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

If you’d like to hear a surprisingly rollicking musical version, check this out:

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