Jerry Hurley’s poem this week is a first for him, a villanelle, a poetic form with 19 lines and a strict pattern of repetition and rhyme. Each villanelle is comprised of five tercets, which are three-line stanzas, followed by a quatrain, which is a stanza with four lines.

The first and third lines of the opening tercet are repeated in an alternating pattern as the final line of each next tercet; those two repeated lines then form the final two lines of the entire poem. The rhyme scheme calls for those repeating lines to rhyme, and for the second line of every tercet to rhyme.

The word villanelle comes originally from the Italian word villano, meaning “peasant.” The villanellas and villancicos of the Renaissance were Italian and Spanish songs made for dancing, which featured the pastoral theme appropriate for peasant dances.

 

 

Oysterman’s Prayer

 

The oysterman prays at the end of the day,

the return of prosperity to pass on to his son.

Tonging for life in Apalach Bay.

 

But the oysterman’s son must have his say.

Yet when all has been said, all has been done,

the oysterman prays at the end of the day

 

The life that is known, the ancestor’s way,

passed down for years from father to son.

Tonging for life in Apalach Bay

 

Over time the bay changes, the piper you pay,

the clock goes not backwards once you’ve begun.

The oysterman prays at the end of the day.

 

Can they come back, their future not fey,

before the tale ends with the setting of sun?

Tonging for life in Apalach Bay.

 

The boat with the tongs at the end of the quay

on gray water is waiting for the man and the son.

The oysterman prays at the end of the day,

tonging for life in Apalach Bay.