Meeting Beelzebub – #3 – A Villanelle


Beelzebub met me on Cherry Lane,
Lined with Honey Blossoms all a-flower,
He gazed at me, like a sad, last refrain.,

Took me in, my hat, my coat, my cane,
Finding me wanting, deep, dark and dour,
Beelzebub met me on Cherry Lane.

Absorbing me into his dark domain,
Twisting my heart and soul in his power,
He gazed at me, like a sad, last refrain.

Eyes devouring, sucking me with disdain,
Holding me fast, beneath Honey’s bower,
Beelzebub met me on Cherry Lane.

Stealing my strength of purpose with free rein,
A final thrust he gave me at that hour,
Gazing at me, like a sad, last refrain.

I screamed my vent, soul searing and in pain,
Laughed he did, refusing relief of scour,
Beelzebub met me on Cherry Lane,
He gazed at me, like a sad, last refrain.


For anyone interested in poetry history, techniques and styles:
The villanelle originated as a pastoral/rustic ballad and dance song in Italy and Spain during medieval times (and maybe even before!). There is some debate as to its progression into the present literary form. The first French poets to name the style used no specific structure or form until a poem by Jean Passerat called “Villanelle,” or “J’ay perdu ma tourterelle” published in 1606. However, it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that the villanelle was defined as a fixed form by French poet Théodore de Banville (although some argue that it had been defined a century before and some a century later!). The form did not take hold in France, however, and most ‘modern’ Villanelles have been written in English with a highly structured form. Many well known English poets have used this form (Edmund GosseAustin DobsonOscar Wilde, Andrew LangJohn Payne and, more recently, in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s –  Theodore RoethkeSylvia Plath and Elizabeth Bishop.

The form consists of five stanzas of three lines (tercets) followed by a single stanza of four lines (a quatrain) for a total of nineteen lines. It is structured by two repeating rhymes and two refrains: the first line of the first stanza serves as the last line of the second and fourth stanzas, and the third line of the first stanza serves as the last line of the third and fifth stanzas and then repeated again as the last two lines of the final quatrain. There is also a strict rhyming pattern through the tercets of a repeating ABA.

I find this a challenging style but do enjoy playing with the words to accommodate the style and still find meaning which will hopefully resonate with the reader.

Thanks for reading! 🙂


© Copyright 2015 Robin McShane
As per this blog’s copyright statement


4 comments on “Meeting Beelzebub – #3 – A Villanelle

  1. I agree, Rob, this form is a challenge. It’s difficult to keep repeating the same lines, each time with a slightly different nuance that moves the poem along…..easy to fall into a trap of boredom, and meaninglessness. You forgot to mention what is probably the most famous villanelle familiar to poetry students: Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”. Nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cynthia. Yes, I actually decided not to mention Dylan Thomas’s Vilanelle as the post was growing longer and longer! 🙂 left the surprise (if any) for anyone who may do some research! 🙂 Thanks again…


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