Friday, January 23, 2015

Poetry Friday - The House on the Hill

I'm wrestling with writing a villanelle or two, so I've been reading some for inspiration. Sometimes I find this helpful, as it gets me thinking about the importance of those first and third lines. Other times I worry it will influence my writing too much.

When I set out to write a villanelle I always begin with the final two lines, largely because I want them to make sense together and the poem to "work." Because this is the way I write a poem in this form, it's also where I start when I read them. (Don't worry though, I'm not one of those "read the last page of the book first" kind of girls. I would never spoil the ending.)

Here are the first two tercets of a villanelle I'm quite fond of.

The House on the Hill
by Edwin Arlington Robinson

They are all gone away,
      The House is shut and still,
There is nothing more to say.

Through broken walls and gray
      The winds blow bleak and shrill:
They are all gone away.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Tara at A Teaching Life. Happy poetry Friday friends!


  1. So much remorse in this poem, Tricia! It reminds me of an abandoned farm house I used to drive by on my way to school when I lived in Maine. I always wondered what happened to the family who lived there. Thank you for the peek into your writing process, too. Starting with the end in mind makes so much sense in this case. Good luck with your villanelle!

  2. Catherine, I passed just this kind of house when I rode my bike as a kid. I always wondered who lived there and why they left.

    As to my writing process, I follow my cardinal rule for lesson planning, "Begin with the end in mind." I also keep a rhyming dictionary handy!

  3. This is a sad start to a poem, and it's haunting to hear the wind in my imagination. This seems like a very difficult form of poetry to write.

  4. I enjoyed hearing about your own process, Tricia, in writing a villanelle, & this particular one is sad, even perhaps meaning a larger message for the past?. Sometimes when I've seen an abandoned house on the prairie, at least I give a thought to the family that once lived there, the happiness & the sadness upon leaving. Thanks for all you shared!

  5. One of my favorite sappy songs is sung by Mel Torme: "The Folks Who Live on the Hill." It has a melancholy melody, but it is essentially an "up" message. I only mention it here because the poem above seems so sad. :-(

    1. OMG--I just saw a link to "The Folks Who Live on the Hill" sung by Michelle Dockery! If you're a Downton Abbey fan, you'll know she's Lady Mary. Who knew?

    2. Thanks for sharing these! I grew up on big bands and Mel Torme, so I love this song, just never made the connection to the poem. And yes, it is a rather melancholy poem, but it has some appeal I can't put my finger on.

  6. Such a sad poem. I so admire writing within this form ... good luck with all you're working on!