Nov. 29, 2004: VILLANELLE (Lloyd Schwartz)

Well, we could have an epithalamium or something today in celebration of
my sister Anna’s wedding, but I realise her address is no longer on my
mailing list! It must have been something I said. Anyway, that would take
research. I prefer to work a little more randomly.

About a month and a half ago, a person at the library was checking out
books by Allen Grossman. I’d never heard of this guy; she said he was a
pretty well-known poet. So tonight I did what any intrepid scholar
does–used GOOGLE–and found an old issue of PLOUGHSHARES in which he’d
been published. Didn’t like the poem much, and it was too long. Found
another by our favorite Diane Wakoski ("Blue Monday") but it was too long.
One on the death of my favorite pianist, Bill Evans, but it wasn’t about
Bill Evans. It was about slugs. Ew. One by a psychoanalyst who’s a member
of the institute I sometimes work at. Broken hyperlink. So voila, a
villanelle by local critic Lloyd Schwartz (any relation to Delmore,
people?). Well, I love villanelles, and I loved the tactile, urban imagery
of this one, as opposed to the more ideal, universal language of Elizabeth
Bishop’s "One Art"–aLSo a favorite. How does all the repetition strike
people here?

Happy Thanksgiving and all,

Matt

*************

VILLANELLE
by Lloyd Schwartz

The building needs a few repairs —
though some rooms are still comfortable and warm.
Where is the landlord? No landlord’s there.

A fire burned up the back stairs;
we thought it was a false alarm.
The building needs a few repairs.

We thought "love" was a house of air:
my hand got caught; you lost an arm.
Where is the landlord? No landlord’s there.

The present tenants hardly care–
can a house survive on charm?
The building needs "a few repairs."

It looks as if it’s almost scared. . .
windows, shivering in a storm.
Where is the landlord? No landlord’s there.

Walls are crumbling; halls are bare.
Save the contents–change the form!
The building needs a few repairs.
Where is the landlord? No landlord’s there.

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