The Poets

September 12, 2009

Blue Moon So Rare: A Nancy Villanelle

With recent posts on the structure and (challenging) nature of the villanelle, I was pleased to see that a good friend of mine took up the task of creating one … and an absolutely beautiful one at that.

Nancy, as I mentioned to you on Facebook (where she posted this poem): you’ve singlehandedly set the bar for writing villanelles … in fact (I dare say), you’ve trumped Dylan’s popular verse … absolutely incredible ...

Below the asterisks (with her permission) is the post as laid out by her. Thank you for sharing this, Nancy. Everyone else: Enjoy!


Blue Moon So Rare

The moon above so full so rare so blue
She rises high in a night sky most fair
And leads us home, you to me, me to you

Keeping deep held secrets only she knew
She whisper'd their myst’ry into the air
The moon above so full so rare so blue

A lunar lifetime one fulfill’d, then two
Spawns folklore of veil'd occurrences rare
And leads us home, you to me, me to you

To propose it is said woman sh’ant do
Still on this night with this moon she doth dare
The moon above so full so rare so blue

Hearts echoed refrain may thus engage true
Two souls as one reflect in her mirror
And leads us home, you to me, me to you

She’ll pray that you this day may say “I do”
To life’s magic and love without compare
The moon above so full so rare so blue
That leads us home, you to me, me to you

~ Nancy, 9/10/2009

Regarding the topic:

I love the folklore of the blue moon and have researched it on more than one occasion. Though the phrase “once in a blue moon” can be traced back about 400 years, its present usage only came into being in the mid-1940’s from an article in Sky & Telescope magazine. Still it was not widely known until made popular by the 1986 Genus II edition of the Trivial Pursuit board game. However, the most common understanding, the 2nd full moon in a calendar month, is now considered inaccurate and the “true” meaning said to be the 2nd full moon in a season.

Ironically, by this definition a blue moon is not even that rare – a calendar blue moon occurs 7 times every 19 years - the next of which will occur on 12/31/2009 at 7:14 p.m. MST. A seasonal blue moon is less frequent, but still not especially rare – the next occurring on 11/21/2010.

Of course, having a romantic heart, I like the superstition that under a blue moon a woman can propose to the man, and hence used that for the inspiration of my poem. This notion was born in an article about blue moons published in the long-running, and thereby taken as authoritative, Sydney Morning Herald feature, Column Eight (formerly called Granny's Column). It repeated the previously published theory and added that “under a blue moon a woman is permitted by tradition to propose to her sweetheart.” Perhaps echoing the genuinely ancient custom of women being able to propose marriage in Leap Year (or on Leap Year Day, February 29), which began with Scottish legislation to that effect in 1288.

Also being a fan of things scientific, it is interesting to note that there can be an actual visible blue moon under certain (and yes, rare) atmospheric conditions. This is caused by a concentration of dust or ice or sometimes even clouds in the air. Some recent occasions have been Krakatoa in 1883 which caused green sunsets and moons of blue, a 1927 monsoon in India, and a forest fire in Alberta, Canada in 1951.

Regarding the poem (technical aspects):

This poem was written in the form of the villanelle. A villanelle consists of:

* 19 lines broken up into five tercets (3 lines) and a concluding quatrain (4 lines).

* The meter is iambic pentameter and consists of ten syllables per line.

* The rhyme scheme is aba aba aba aba aba abaa.

* The first refrain (the first line) repeats in lines 6, 12, and 18; the second refrain (the third line) repeats in lines 9, 15, and 19. This causes the last two lines (18 and 19) to form a rhymed couplet.

Very tricky stuff and a fun challenge!

I also intentionally included personification, archetype, person, and recurrent themes (in word choices), as well as several enjoyable poetry techniques which I have only recently learned about such as polysyndeton, assonance, alliteration, oblique rhyme, and metric consolidation. A number of metaphors have been pointed out as well. They are mostly unintended and are merely the result of my natural writing style.

Of Poetry -- Thank you my friend, my yoda, my muse, my inspiration, for opening my eyes and expanding my world.

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