[i] Czeslaw Milosz, Provinces, translated by Milosz and Robert Hass (NY: The Ecco Press, 1991), 15. I have silently corrected the obvious misprint “chose” to “choose.”
[ii] For early debates on New Formalism in the journals, see especially Mary Kinzie, “The Rhapsodic Fallacy,” Salmagundi 65 (1984): 63-79 and responses in the same volume; Ariel Dawson, “The Yuppie Poet,” AWP Newsletter (May 1985): 36-43; Alan Shapiro, “The New Formalism,” Critical Inquiry 14.1 (1987): 200-13; and David Wojahn, “‘Yes, But …’: Some Thoughts on the New Formalism,” Crazyhorse 32 (1987): 64-81. For collections of criticism on New Formalism, see Frederick Feirstein, Expansive Poetry: Essays on the New Narrative & the New Formalism (Santa Cruz, CA: Story Line Press, 1989); R. S. Gwynn, New Expansive Poetry: Theory, Criticism, History, Rev. ed. (Ashland, OR: Story Line Press, 1999); and Annie Finch, After New Formalism: Poets on Form, Narrative, and Tradition (Ashland, OR: Story Line Press, 1999).
The Effect of New Formalism
[i] See Appendix I for a table showing the anthologies I have examined and the villanelles they include.
[ii] See Appendix II for a list of villanelles published since 1845.
[iii] And, sadly, there is at least one press of decidedly questionable reputation for which the villanelle seems to be an absolute gold mine. Subsidiaries of The Forward Press, of Peterborough, England–a modern vanity press–have published no fewer than three collections containing only villanelles: Andrew Head, ed., Villanelle Vogue (Peterborough: Poetry Now, 1998); Heather Killingray, ed., The Ultimate Villanelle Collection (Peterborough: Poetry Now, 1998); and Kelly Deacon, ed., The Classic Collection of Villanelle (Peterborough: Anchor, 2000).
[iv] Dr. Bishop is the editor of Women’s Poetry in France, 1965-1995: A Bilingual Anthology (Amsterdam and NY: Rodopi, 1997)–a work that contains many marvelous texts and translations of French poems, and no villanelles. He is also co-editor, with Christopher Elson, of Contemporary French Poetics (Amsterdam and NY: Rodopi, 2002), and the author or editor of numerous other scholarly works on contemporary French poetry.
[v] In the interest of full disclosure, I include this piece, hitherto unpublished:
[i] An article distilled from this dissertation appeared as “The Myth of the Fixed-Form Villanelle” Modern Language Quarterly 64.4 (2003): 427-43. Dr. Kane and I corresponded by e-mail just before the publication of this piece. Throughout this work, I refer chiefly to Dr. Kane’s dissertation rather than to the published article, since the dissertation is broader in scope.
[ii] I do not know whether McFarland intended this round hundred of villanelles.
[iii] Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (NY: Portland House; Distributed by Outlet Book Co., 1989).
[iv] All translations are mine except where indicated in the text.
[v] See Chapter One for a full discussion of the tangled issues regarding the definition of the villanelle in the 1751 Dictionnaire de rimes. Essentially, I differ slightly from Kane in thinking that this work does not “fix” the villanelle’s form, and therefore I date the origin of the fixed-form villanelle to Wilhelm Ténint’s 1844 Prosodie de l’école moderne–especially since, as Kane herself observes, it was only in the latter half of the nineteenth century that poets began writing schematic villanelles.
[vi] Designating French poetry as “essentially syllabic” is an oversimplification, but it seems to me to be the best way of emphasizing the vital but potentially invisible difference between English and French prosody for English-speakers. I am indebted to Professor Mary McKinley and to the work of Clive Scott for the late dawning of my own knowledge on the subject. For readers as unfamiliar with the niceties of French mesures as myself, I reproduce here a succinct but scrupulous paragraph from an appendix on “The Fundamentals of French Versification” in Clive Scott’s A Question of Syllables (Cambridge UP: Cambridge and London, 1986):
0 French versification is to be distinguished from English versification (syllable-stress metre) by the following broad principles: the integrity of the French line depends on the number of its syllables rather than on the number and nature of its rhythmic segments (French: mesures, English, ‘feet’); the position of French ‘accents’ (equivalent of English stresses) is determined by the syntactic structure of the line rather than by the inherent stress patterns on individual words; the French accent falls on the last accentuable syllable of each syntactic unit in the line, and since these units naturally vary in length, French rhythmic measures obey no law of recurrence and no principle of regularity, and thus have no connection with the notion of beat; because French accents are linked also with pitch, and because the French line always ends with an accentuated syllable, there is a natural tendency in French verse for the end of the line to coincide with a syntactical break, that is, to be endstopped; it is for this reason that enjambement is potentially a greater transgression in French verse than in English. Individual lines of verse in French thus have a peculiar rhythmic autonomy and the rhythms of one line in no way predict the rhythms of the line following. (198)
0 It should also be mentioned that there are experiments with non-syllabic meters in French, not least of which is the vers mesurés movement in which Jean Passerat took part in the sixteenth century. Vers mesurés are essentially the equivalent of quantitative verse in English; both are an attempt to reproduce the meter of classical Latin poetry through an emphasis on the duration of syllables rather than on the number of syllables.
[vii] One of each appears in Annie Finch, ed., A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women (Brownsville, OR: Story Line Press, 1994). Carolyn B. Whitlow’s “Rockin’ A Man, Stone Blind” is accentual, and Cheryl Clarke’s “What Goes Around Comes Around, or, The Proof is in the Pudding” is non-metrical.
[viii] Kane does take issue with Scott’s claim that “the form only became standardized in the 17th c., when prosodists such as Richelet based their definition on ‘J’ay perdu ma tourterelle’ by Jean Passerat” (1358). See Chapter One.
Chapter One: The Lost Turtledove
[i] Throughout, to avoid various kinds of confusion, I refer to the poem by its first line rather than by its title.
[ii] Julie Ellen Kane is more inclined than McFarland to attribute a genuine folk derivation for the courtly villanella, which becomes important for her argument that the contemporary villanelle does in fact harken back to folk songs. I discuss this issue further below.
[iii] For McFarland, all Renaissance villanelles except “J’ay perdu ma Tourterelle” are “irregular form villanelles” (43).
Background of “J’ay perdu ma Tourterelle”
[i] This account of Passerat’s life is chiefly drawn from the work of Roger Thomas Patterson, Jean Passerat (1534-1602): A Critical Biography, Bibliography, and Study of Selected Works, published dissertation (Belfast: Queen’s University, 1994). Patterson conducts an extremely thorough and scholarly review of all previous biographies of Passerat, and his attention to previously undiscussed primary sources is outstanding. This biography is therefore clearly the most reliable of available sources on Passerat, as well as the most recent, even though Patterson deliberately de-emphasizes Passerat’s French poetry. See also Kathleen C. K. Merken, “Jean Passerat, Poet and Humanist,” Unpublished dissertation (U of CA Berkeley, 1966), which gives greater consideration to Passerat’s work in the vernacular. Other sources that have contributed to my understanding of Passerat have been Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, Tableau historique et critique de la poésie française et du théâtre français au XVIe siècle (Paris: Charpentier, 1843); Charles Des Guerrois, Jean Passerat, poète et savant (Paris: Ledoyen, Schulz et Thuillie, 1856); Prosper Blanchemain, ed., Les poésies françaises de Jean Passerat (Paris: Alphonse Lemerre, 1880); and Arthur Augustus Tilley, The Literature of the French Renaissance, 2 vols. (Cambridge: University Press, 1904). I have not been able to find any more recent texts that deal with Passerat’s early work or life in any depth.
[ii] Michel Bideaux, André Tournon, and Hélène Moreau, Histoire de la littérature française du XVIe siècle, études linguistiques et littéraires, ed. Henri Mitterand (Paris: Nathan, 1991) 188-99.
[iii] The Satyre Ménippée was translated into English in 1595 under the title A Pleasant Satyre or Poesie Wherein Is Discouered the Catholicon of Spayne, and the Chiefe Leaders of the League. Finelie Fetcht Ouer, and Laide Open in Their Colours. Newly Turned out of French into English, by “Jean Le Roy” (London: Printed by the widdow Orwin for Thomas Man dwelling in Pater-noster row at the signe of the Talbot, 1595). French translations of Nihil appeared in 1581 by Marie Romieu and in 1599 by Philippes Girard, and English translations or imitations were produced by Edward Daunce in 1585 as The Prayse of Nothing and by William Cornwallis in 1616 in his Essays of Certaine Paradoxes (Patterson 202-12). See Ralph M. Sargent, “The Authorship of The Prayse of Nothing,” Transactions of the Bibliographical Society XII ser. 4 no. 3 (1932) for the re-attribution of The Prayse of Nothing from Sir Edward Dyer to Edward Daunce.
[iv] See Fabrice Marin Caietain, and Jane A. Bernstein, Airs mis en musique à quatre parties, premier livre: (1578), The Sixteenth-Century Chanson vol. 4 (New York: Garland, 1995), 200-11. Thanks as well to University of Michigan librarian Charles Reynolds for checking the microfilm of the original 1578 text.
[v] Kane 132-3. I have changed brackets in the original to parentheses in order to distinguish Kane’s insertions from mine. Note that Kane translates the title of the lyric sequence as “The Monument for Fleurie by Niré,” while I translate it more literally as “The Tombstone of Fleurie for Niré.” Although the first-person lyrics in the sequence are presumably supposed to be in the voice of the grieving “Niré,” there is still no reason that I can see to translate “pour” (“for”) as “by” in this instance, as though Passerat were offering the authorship of the poems to Henri III.
[vi] See Tilley I.295, II.123; Frederic J. Baumgartner, France in the Sixteenth Century (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1995) 217-26. The sonnet, of course, was one Italian import that survived handily.
[vii] See Michel François, et al., Lettres de Henri III, roi de France, Société de l’histoire de France Publications in Octavo. 463 (Paris: C. Klincksieck, 1959); Jacqueline Boucher, La cour de Henri III, (Rennes: Ouest-France, 1986); Pierre Chevallier, Henri III: roi Shakespearien (Paris: Fayard, 1985); and Jean François Solnon, Henri III: Un désir de majesté ([Paris]: Perrin, 2001).
[viii] This account is indebted to Baumgartner 217-30. See Tilley for a thorough account of the printing history of the much-in-demand Satyre Ménippée.
[ix] These three sources are the following: François Barbin, et al., Recueil des plus belles pieces des poëtes françois, tant anciens que modernes, depuis Villon jusqu’ à M. de Benserade (Paris: Claude Barbin, 1692; reprinted 1752); A. Phérotée de La Croix, L’art de la poësie françoise et latine, avec une ideé de la musique sous une nouvelle methode, Omnia in pondere, numero & mensura. En trois parties (Lyon: Thomas Amaulry, 1694); and Pierre Richelet, Pierre Charles Berthelin, and Louis Barthelemy, Dictionnaire de rimes (Lyon: A. Leroy, 1751; new editions or printings in 1760, 1762, 1778, 1781, 1799, 1810, 1817, and 1973). See Kane 211-27 for a full discussion of these three works; note that the second source by Phérotée de la Croix is considered to be only a bastardized version of the Barbin Recueil.
[x] Joseph Boulmier did read the sentence as prescribing that a villanelle should use only words rhyming with “elle” and “oi,” in fact (10), but I think that he (and we) are simply expecting a prescribed form. The word “poëme” simply means “poem,” and if the sentence is in fact establishing so rigorous a scheme in tercets, it seems odd that the next sentence should describe villanelles as also having stanzas of six lines.
Textual Analysis of “J’ay perdu ma Tourterelle”
[i] Tilley II.57; Kane 128; and Sainte-Beuve 121.
[ii] Further research by a Renaissance scholar certainly seems indicated; I would certainly like to know whether the practice of deliberately varying spelling for poetic effect was a common one in the early modern period. Perhaps Renaissance scholars have already explored this phenomenon extensively; I don’t know. In the context of distinguishing between the oral-formulaic, improvisatory, mnemonic song tradition and the new text-centered madrigal of the Renaissance, Kane comments on the sixteenth-century phenomenon of “eye music,” in which “features of the musical composition [￢ﾀﾦ] were apparent to the eyes of the singer reading the score, but not necessarily to his or her ears. Words such as “day” or “light,” for example, would be set to white notes (half, whole, and double whole notes, called minims, semibreves, and breves), while “darkness,” “blindness,” “night,” “death,” and “color” required black notes (quarter notes, called semiminims)” (How 53). As Kane notes, such a practice foreshadows George Herbert’s experiments with visual poetic effects in the seventeenth century. Such examples show that, as seems natural, the increasing textuality of art in the sixteenth century led to artistic experiments with that textuality. Still, Passerat’s homographia, while well worth preserving, does not seem boldly experimental in the same degree: it strikes me as produced by the same kind of tidying urge that produced the convention of capitalizing the first letter of every line of a poem regardless of its sentence structure. It is a purely visual, textual phenomenon, and as such can be taken as a comment on the visuality of texts–but in some cases that comment is only half-realized: it just looks better that way.
[iii] It is worth noting here that the many sonnets in the Tombeau de Fleurie pour Niré are all on the same rhyme scheme, abbaabba ccdeed, which lends weight to Kane’s point that Passerat was not particularly inclined to make formal innovations. The only mildly innovative feature of “J’ay perdu ma Tourterelle” is that it has two distinct refrains instead of one.
[iv] In another chapter I discuss the imposition of meaning on poetic form in more detail; too often, critics seem to extrapolate the axiom that villanelles are intrinsically obsessive from the undeniably accurate observation that contemporary villanelles often deal with obsession. Such axioms are historically constructed, I argue; for now it suffices to point out that Victorian and Edwardian accepted wisdom held that the villanelle was suited only to light subjects.
Translations of “J’ay perdu ma Tourterelle”
[i] A version of this section and the translation of “J’ay perdu ma Tourterelle” it contains appeared under the title “Lost Classic: Jean Passerat, ‘J’ay perdu ma tourterelle’” Meridian 12 (2003) 30-7.
[ii] George Wyndham, “Villanelle,” Ronsard and La Pléiade, with Selections from their Poetry and Some Translations in the Original Metres (London and NY: Macmillan, 1906) 249-50; Wilfrid Charles Thorley, “Villanelle,” Fleurs-de-lys, a Book of French Poetry Freely Translated into English Verse (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1920) 90; William Frederic Giese, “Villanelle,” French Lyrics, in English Verse (Madison, WI: The University Press, 1946) 67; John Payne, “Villanelle,” Flowers from France: The Renaissance Period, from Ronsard to Saint-Amant (London: Villon Society, 1907): 132-3 reprinted in Huntington Cairns, The Limits of Art (Washington DC: Pantheon, 1948) 539; Elizabeth Gerteiny, “Villanelle (Jean Passerat: 1534-1602),” Poet Lore 68 (1973) 70; Philip K. Jason, “Modern Versions of the Villanelle,” College Literature 7 (1980) 145; Anne Waldman, “Villanelle,” The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms, ed. Ron Padgett and Teachers & Writers Collaborative (NY: Teachers & Writers Collaborative, 1987) 197-8. See also the admirably simple prose translation in Geoffrey Brereton, ed., The Penguin Book of French Verse (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1958) 91-2.
[iii] Wyndham 189, 250; Edmund Gosse, “A Plea for Certain Exotic Forms of Verse,” Cornhill Magazine 36 (1877) 65; George Saintsbury, ed., French Lyrics (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887) 114.
Chapter Two: Young Men of Talent
[i] Throughout this chapter, I lump together French and English movements and genres such as Parnassianism, Art for Art’s Sake, Hellenism, Aestheticism, Decadence, light verse, occasional verse, and vers de société under the sobriquet of “post-Romanticism.” This does obscure the highly-contested distinctions between these categories that their participating authors would no doubt have insisted upon; some contemporary scholars of the period might also wish to take issue with my inexact terminology. Nevertheless, I have eliminated the redundancy of utter specificity in this case because in my view, the matrix of contention that produces these distinctions is precisely the result of a much more evident resemblance between the movements in question. Freud proposed a similar thesis for the tendency of proximate ethnic communities to go to war with one another in Civilization and Its Discontents. I prefer to use a categorical term that emphasizes the similarities of these movements, all of which opposed utilitarian, socially conscious poetry in favor of lyrical individualism.
[i] See Henri Peyre, What Is Romanticism? trans. Roda Roberts (University, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1977) 50-3.
[ii] See Théophile Gautier, Poésies complètes de Théophile Gautier, ed. René Jasinski, 3 vols. (Paris: A. G. Nizet, 1970) III.128 for the full text of “L’Art.”
[iii] The following account is drawn from the introduction to Patricia Joan Siegel, ed., Wilhelm Ténint et sa Prosodie de l’école moderne: Avec des documents inédits (Paris et Genève: Slatkine Reprints, 1986) 7-53.
[iv] For an account of the duel, see Pierre Pellissier, Emile de Girardin, prince de la presse, Collection divers faits (Paris: Denoël, 1985), 98-113.
[v] On Hugolian trimètre, see Clive Scott, French Verse-Art: A Study (Cambridge [Eng.] ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1980) 66-68; on Hernani, see Théophile Gautier, Victor Hugo (Paris: E. Fasquelle, 1902).
[vi] For some reason, both Ténint and Banville prefer the spelling “rhythme” to the correct modern French spelling, “rythme.” “Rhythme” seems to be a fairly common misspelling or alternate spelling in French. Throughout, I translate it as “form” rather than as “rhythm,” since I believe the former translation better conveys the meaning of the term in the nineteenth-century context than the English cognate.
[vii] For the text of Gautier’s “Villanelle Rythmique,” see Gautier, Poésies complètes, II.208. McFarland points out that Gautier’s poem “attests to the renewal of interest in Renaissance forms” and that it “in subject matter and tone resembles the work of the Pléiade poets” (46), both of which I would agree with. But McFarland also considers the poem “irregular,” since it is not on the Passerat model, which is a term I would not agree with, the form not having yet been regularized.
[viii] The evidence for the genuine fame of Mickiewicz and of his two volumes of sonnets in Parisian Romantic circles of the eighteen-thirties and eighteen-forties is too copious to be listed here. See Jean Bourrilly, “Mickiewicz and France,” Adam Mickiewicz in World Literature: A Symposium, ed. Waclaw Lednicki (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1956) 243-79 and Zofia Mitosek, Adam Mickiewicz aux yeux des Français : textes réunis, établis et présentés avec l’introduction, commentaires, et notes (Warzsawa and Paris: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Pwn Cnrs, 1992).
[ix] It is unclear to me whether “pederasty” in this context means child molestation or homosexuality; I am inclined to think that it means a Hellenized version of the latter, but I would welcome other opinions.
[x] See Siegel 14.
Théodore de Banville
[i] See Sylvain-Christian David, Philoxène Boyer: un sale ami de Baudelaire (Paris: Ramsay, 1987) 246-53. For the full text of “La Marquise Aurore,” see Philoxène Boyer, Les deux saisons (Paris: A. LeMerre, 1867) 47-8.
[ii] This translation is perhaps too literal; I am not quite sure what Banville means by “une petite Dunkerque” and “bijoux d’étagère.” “Dunkirk” is perhaps an obsolete term for a jewelry box; in Essays in Little Lang writes that Banville calls the villanelle “the fairest jewel in the casket of the muse Erato,” while in “A Plea For Certain Exotic Forms of Verse” Gosse translates the phrase “the most ravishing jewel worn by the Muse Erato.” Also, “prémisses,” like its English cognate “premises,” can mean either “foundations of logical argument” or “particular location.” Since Boyer died in poverty, I think the translation “lodgings” is most likely, though perhaps Banville means to assert that Boyer has established new predicates for poetry.
[iii] This publication history is chiefly taken from OCLC WorldCat, April 2004, http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/. See also Maximilien Fuchs, Théodore de Banville (1823-1891) (Genève: Slatkine Reprints, 1972; first published Paris: Cornély, 1912) 420.
Edmund Gosse and Austin Dobson
[i] I take issue to some extent with the term “French forms,” especially in the case of the villanelle, which has so many more English examples than French examples. I do occasionally use the term while narrating the history of the revival of these forms, because their “Frenchness” was highly significant for the post-Romantics and even for the modernists, but I think the term should be retired from contemporary handbooks. To my mind a more accurate and neutral term, also now in common usage, is “fixed forms.” Continually designating certain forms as “French” emphasizes their foreignness to Anglophone poetry in an inevitably hierarchical way, even if the affective connotations of “Frenchness” have somewhat diminished for English-speakers. Or had, before the resurgence of ancient Francophobic tendencies in the international arguments over the war on Iraq.
[ii] For journals to which Gosse contributed in this period, see Ann Thwaite, Edmund Gosse: A Literary Landscape, 1849-1928 (London: Secker & Warburg, 1984) 129-30.
[iii] See Clive Scott, French Verse-Art: A Study (Cambridge [Eng.]; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1980) 157-64.
[iv] See Edmund Gosse, New Poems (London: C. Kegan Paul & Co., 1879) 154-5 and W. Davenport Adams, ed., Latter-Day Lyrics: Being Poems of Sentiment and Reflection by Living Writers (London: Chatto and Windus, 1878) 312-13.
[v] The accidentals in these two texts match almost exactly.
Joseph de Boulmier
[i] The two biographical dictionaries most likely to have included Boulmier are Jean Chrétien Ferdinand Hoefer, Nouvelle biographie générale depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu’à nos jours, avec les renseignements bibliographiques et l’indication des sources à consulter (Paris: Firmin Didot fréres fils et cie, 1855) and Gustave Vapereau, Dictionnaire universel des contemporains (Paris: Hachette et cie, 1880).
[ii] See Chapter One for a full discussion of the passage on the villanelle in the 1751 rhyming dictionary.
[iii] All references taken from OCLC WorldCat, February 2004, http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/.
Conclusion to Chapter Two
[i] From this point on I use the term “villanelle” to mean a poem on the nineteen-line alternating-refrain scheme.
[ii] Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (San Diego, New York, and London: Harcourt, 1989) 12.
Chapter Three: Ardent Ways
[i] As a general rule in this period, the villanelle tended to be discussed in scholarly works dealing specifically with the history of French poetry and not in works dealing with poetry in English: George Saintsbury’s monumental narrative work of scholarship A History of English Prosody from the Twelfth Century to the Present Day (London and NY: Macmillan, 1906-10) did not discuss the villanelle, whereas the form was mentioned in Saintsbury’s A Short History of French Literature (Oxford: Clarendon, 1882). The villanelle form was also explained and discussed in Gleeson White’s Ballades and Rondeaus, Chants Royal, Sestinas, Villanelles, &C (London, New York: W. Scott limited, 1887); Leon Kastner’s A History of French Versification (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1903); and Helen Louise Cohen’s Lyric Forms from France: Their History and Their Use (NY: Harcourt Brace, 1922).
[ii] See note 15 to Chapter Two for an explanation of my concerns with the term “French forms,” which I find unnecessarily nationalist and inaccurate (especially in the case of the villanelle). The term “fixed forms” is more exact, more neutral, more abstract–but this category would of course include the sonnet, and Anglophone poets and scholars have historically maintained a rigid patriotic separation between the English sonnet and every other fixed form.
James Joyce (and Stephen Dedalus)
[i] See Hans Walter Gabler’s introduction to Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, ed. Hans Walter Gabler and Walter Hettche (New York: Garland, 1993) 4-5 and Hans Walter Gabler, “The Seven Lost Years of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” Approaches to Joyce’s Portrait: Ten Essays, ed. Thomas F. Staley and Bernard Benstock ([Pittsburgh]: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1976). Gabler writes, “A manuscript section in chapter V clearly set off as an insert from its surroundings is the villanelle movement. Its sixteen manuscript pages are (but for the last one) inscribed with a different ink and a different slope of the hand on different paper” (“Seven” 44). Other evidence Gabler examines proves to his satisfaction that this section was transcribed and inserted after the rest of Chapter V had been completed; the manuscript is dated 1913, but parts of it, including the beginning of Chapter V, probably date from 1911. Gabler admits that the evidence of the villanelle movement’s later insertion does not necessarily mean that it had been written later: “On the contrary, considering the marks of wear and tear on [the last page of the villanelle movement, which includes two lines of prose and the full text of the villanelle], it is not even out of the question that the villanelle section in an earlier unrevised state also belonged to the pages of the rescued 1911 manuscript” (“Seven” 45). In other words, the evidence that the villanelle scene was written in 1914 is inconclusive, but it probably does not predate 1911. “Villanelle of the Temptress” is mentioned by name in the manuscript of Stephen Hero, which dates from 1904-1906, but the full text of the villanelle is not given, nor is the scene of its composition described.
[ii] Stanislaus Joyce, My Brother’s Keeper: James Joyce’s Early Years, 1st McGraw-Hill paperback edn. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964) 85-6. See also Richard Ellmann, James Joyce (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959) 86. The passage in which Ellmann cites Stanislaus Joyce regarding the date of “Villanelle of the Temptress” does not appear in the revised edition of 1982.
[iii] See Ellmann, 1959, 153-6 and Gabler, “Seven,” 25.
[iv] Richard Ellmann, James Joyce (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982) 78-80, 401-2, 462-3.
[v] The central exchange over how Stephen’s villanelle should be read and how judged took place between Wayne Booth and Robert Scholes in the early nineteen-sixties: see Wayne Booth, “The Problem of Distance in A Portrait of the Artist,” The Rhetoric of Fiction (Chicago: U of Chicago, 1961) and Robert Scholes, “Stephen Dedalus, Poet or Esthete?” PMLA 79 (1964 Sept): 484-9. Both are reprinted in James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Text, Criticism, and Notes, Ed. Chester G. Anderson, The Viking Critical Library (New York: Viking Press, 1968). Booth asks, “Finally, what of the precious villanelle? Does Joyce intend it to be taken as a serious sign of Stephen’s artistry, as a sign of his genuine but amusingly pretentious precocity, or as something else entirely?” (466); Scholes answers that “Joyce has deliberately set out in his description of Stephen’s inspiration to fulfill the theoretical requirements he had himself set up for such inspiration. The inspiration and the poem are both intended to be genuine” (480). Booth declares that the degree of Joyce’s distance from Stephen’s villanelle cannot be determined, but his language (“the precious villanelle”) shows that he, unlike Scholes, does not admire the poem. Most subsequent critics have tended toward an essentially Boothian reading, in which Joyce as author intends us to keep a certain ironic distance from “Villanelle of the Temptress,” though not necessarily from Stephen’s aesthetic theories nor from his intent to become an artist.
[vi] See Constantine FitzGibbon, The Life of Dylan Thomas, An Atlantic Monthly Press Book (Boston: Little Brown, 1965) 326. In a written response to questions from a student writing a thesis on Thomas, the poet wrote:
0 I cannot say that I have been “influenced” by Joyce, whom I enormously admire and whose Ulysses, and earlier stories, I have read a great deal. I think this Joyce question arose because somebody once, in print, remarked on the closeness of the title of my book of short stories, “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog,” to Joyce’s title, “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” As you know, the name given to innumerable portrait paintings by their artist is, “Portrait of a Young Man”–a perfectly straightforward title. Joyce used the painting title for the first time as the title of a literary work. I myself made a bit of doggish fun of the painting-title and, of course, intended no possible reference to Joyce. I do not think that Joyce has had any hand at all in my writing; certainly his Ulysses has not. On the other hand, I cannot deny that the shaping of some of my “Portrait” stories might owe something to Joyce’s stories in the volume, “Dubliners.” But then “Dubliners” was a pioneering work in the world of the short story, and no good storywriter since can have failed, in some way, however little, to be benefited by it. (qtd. in Fitzgibbon 326)
[i] Interestingly enough, Dowson’s 1894 “Villanelle of Marguerites” seems to be the first villanelle in iambic pentameter; Dowson’s other four villanelles, like those written by the Anglophone post-Romantics, are tetrameter or trimeter. The second villanelle to be written in pentameter would be Empson’s “Villanelle” (“It is the pain, it is the pain endures”) of 1928. The use of pentameter undoubtedly shows both that English models were in general separating from French models and that Empson in particular was trying to make the villanelle more respectable.
[ii] See Thomas F. Grieve, Ezra Pound’s Early Poetry and Poetics (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1997) 102-4.
[iii] This text is taken from Ezra Pound, Lustra (NY: Knopf, 1917). It represents a substantial revision from the text printed in Poetry in 1915. The changes are all in the first section of the poem: Pound altered lineation and punctuation; added the four lines after “diverse forces”; removed the final line, which ran “Youth would hear speech of beauty,” and made other small changes. On April 13, 1917 Pound wrote to Harriet Monroe and Alice Corbin Henderson, editors of Poetry, complaining about the fact that they had used the earlier version from Poetry, rather than the revised version from his own Lustra, in their compilation The New Poetry; an Anthology (New York: Macmillan, 1917). See Ezra Pound, Alice Corbin Henderson, and Ira Bruce Nadel, The Letters of Ezra Pound to Alice Corbin Henderson (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993) 206. Also, it should be noted that there was an edition of Lustra printed privately in 1916 that contained a version of the poem with at least one substantive variant (“least” for “last”). The version as reprinted in the New Poetry anthology was as follows:
[iv] See Ezra Pound, Gaudier-Brzeska; A Memoir (NY: John Lane, 1916).
[i] Text taken from Punch 149 (1915 Dec 8) 468.
[ii] See Daniel G. Dancocks, Welcome to Flanders Fields (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1988); Maria Tippett, Art at the Service of War: Canada, Art, and the Great War (Toronto; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1984); and Jonathan Franklin William Vance, Death So Noble: Memory, Meaning, and the First World War (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1997).
[iii] For song scores based on McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” published between 1917 and 1919 (none appeared in 1916), see OCLC WorldCat, online database, accessed June 2004, available: http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/.
[iv] See Moina Belle Michael and Leonard Roan, The Miracle Flower: The Story of the Flanders Fields Memorial Poppy (Philadelphia: Dorrance and Company, 1941).
[v] Other reply poems included R. W. Lillard’s “America’s Answer”; C. B. Galbreath’s “In Flanders Fields (An Answer)”; John Mitchell’s “Reply to In Flanders Fields”; and A. Armstrong’s “Reply to In Flanders Fields”: these too all vaguely resembled McCrae’s rondeau at first glance, but had nonce schemes based on rhymed couplets.
Sir Charles G. D. Roberts
[i] There are instances of early villanelles that vary the refrain as the poem progresses, though not many, and not many good examples. One very early amateur example is an 1879 villanelle by Sydney Starr published in the Irish Monthly (see Appendix II) in which the refrain “What would she think, what would she say?” becomes the final line “‘Esther, I love thee’–this will I say!” In general, the post-Romantic writers such as Gosse seemed to hold that the refrain should not vary.
Chapter Four: Grave Truths, Grave Men
[i] When asked about my dissertation, I say that it is a history of a poetic form called the villanelle. People usually look blank. I then say, “Probably the best-known villanelle is Dylan Thomas’s ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ of 1951.” Brows clear, and people say, “Oh, yes.” Sometimes they add cheerfully, “‘Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’”
[ii] On the intellectualism of the Auden group, the Movement, and other poets of the period, see Peter Edgerly Firchow, W.H. Auden: Contexts for Poetry (Newark and London: University of Delaware Press, Associated University Presses, 2002).
[i] Eberhart, who had been at Cambridge with Empson, would himself would publish a villanelle seventeen years later: “Christ is walking in your head today,” Spectrum (1957 Winter).
[ii] See the following reviews reprinted in John Constable, ed., Critical Essays on William Empson (Aldershot, England: Scolar Press, 1993). The original citation information as given in Constable is followed by a cross-reference in parentheses: L. M. [Louis MacNeice], “Mr. Empson as Poet,” New Verse 16 (1935) 17-18 (Constable 58); F. C. [Fletcher Cooke], “Poems, by William Empson,” The Granta 45 (1935) 17 (Constable 59); H. A. Mason, “William Empson’s Verse,” Scrutiny 4 (1935) 302-4 (Constable 69-70); I. A. R. [I. A. Richards], “Empson’s Poems,” The Cambridge Review 57 (1936) 253 (Constable 76-8); W. H. Mellers, “Cats in Air-Pumps (Or Poets in 1940),” Scrutiny 9 (1940) 290-3 (Constable 109-11); Richard Eberhart, “Empson’s Poetry,” reprinted from Kerker Quinn and Charles Shattuck, eds., Accent Anthology: Selections from Accent, A Quarterly of New Literature, 1940-1945 (NY: Harcourt, Brace, 1946) 571-88 (Constable 153). The original publication date of Eberhart’s review is not known, but it seems likely that it appeared soon after Empson’s The Gathering Storm came out in 1940.
W. H. Auden
[i] See Humphrey Carpenter, W.H. Auden, a Biography, 1st American edn. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1981) 279.
[ii] “Are You There [Alone].” Harper’s Bazaar (1941 March 15); “But I Can’t [If I Could Tell You].” Vice Versa (1941 Jan-Feb): 19. Both are reprinted in The Collected Poetry of W. H. Auden (NY: Random House, 1945).
[iii] Arthur Kirsch reports that “The poem was written from 1942 to 1944, in the midst of World War II” (Sea vii). Auden, controversially, was living as an expatriate in the United States at that time.
Dylan Thomas: The Death of the King’s Canary
[i] Text taken from Horizon 5.30 (1942): 6.
[ii] Christopher Saltmarshe, John Davenport, and Basil Wright, eds., Cambridge Poetry 1929 (London: Hogarth, 1929) and Alida Klemantaski Monro, ed., Recent Poetry 1923-1933 (London: Gerald Howe and The Poetry Bookshop, 1933).
Dylan Thomas: Do not go gentle into that good night
[i] See Dylan Thomas, Collected Poems 1934-1953, ed. Walford Davies and Ralph Maud (London: Dent, 1988) 255 and James A. Davies, A Reference Companion to Dylan Thomas (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998) 81.
[ii] See Collected Poems 1988 255; Davies 81.
[iii] See Constantine FitzGibbon, The Life of Dylan Thomas, An Atlantic Monthly Press Book (Boston: Little Brown, 1965) 354.
[iv] I am indebted to my thinking about order and disorder in poetry to Gregory Orr, with whom I have studied creative writing.
[v] Thomas’s legendary persona was that of Dionysus, but if anything is clear from his letters and from various accounts of his last years, it is that he was not enjoying himself–whatever it might have looked like.
[vi] See R. B. Kershner Jr., Dylan Thomas: The Poet and His Critics (Chicago: American Library Association, 1976) 177-80 and John Ackerman, Dylan Thomas: His Life and Work (London, Oxford, and New York: Oxford UP, 1964; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996) 5-9.
[vii] The most important of these biographies, some of which I have already cited, are as follows: Constantine FitzGibbon, The Life of Dylan Thomas, Atlantic Monthly Press (Boston: Little Brown, 1965); John Ackerman, Dylan Thomas: His Life and Work (London, Oxford, and New York: Oxford UP, 1964; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996); Paul Ferris, Dylan Thomas: The Biography, New edn. (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1977, 1999; Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1999, 2000); and Andrew Lycett, Dylan Thomas: A New Life, 1st edn. (Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 2004). See also James A. Davies, A Reference Companion to Dylan Thomas (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998), which includes both biography and commentary.
[viii] In 2002, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Dylan Thomas’s 1952 recording of A Child’s Christmas in Wales for Caedmon, a complete collection of Dylan Thomas recordings was released on CD: Dylan Thomas CD: The Caedmon Collection, HarperAudio 2002.
[ix] John Davies reads “Do not go gentle into that good night” and the late poems altogether differently; for him, the villanelle represents Thomas’s mature homage to his father’s “suburbanite” and “‘gentle’-manly” values. He writes, “If, as has been suggested, poetic formality in Thomas’s work is expressive of the ordering, conforming impulse essential to middle-classness, then these late works are the most bourgeois of poems” (211-12).
Conclusion to Chapter Four
[i] Dylan Thomas, Collected Poems, 1934-1952 (London: J.M. Dent, 1952);à The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas (New York: New Directions Books, 1953).
[ii] Fussell, of course, might simply dislike the French forms; we remember that in his book The Great War and Modern Memory he condemned the rondeau “In Flanders Fields” on both moral and technical grounds.
[i] These numbers are taken from the back cover of Merriam-Webster’s Rhyming Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1995) and from the introduction to Philippe Martinon and Robert Lacroix de l’Isle’s Dictionnaire des rimes Françaises, précédé d’un traité de versification (Paris: Larousse, 1962) 6. I was unable to find a more recent French rhyming dictionary that gives information as to the number of rhymesets or words it contains.
[ii] See Léon Warnant, Dictionnaire des rimes orales et écrites (Paris: Larousse, 1973) 183-9 on the sound “el” and Merriam-Webster’s Rhyming Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1995) 242-3 on the sound “ite.”