Definition of villanelle in English:



  • A nineteen-line poem with two rhymes throughout, consisting of five tercets and a quatrain, with the first and third lines of the opening tercet recurring alternately at the end of the other tercets and with both repeated at the close of the concluding quatrain.

    ‘But in my beginning classes, the first thing they have to learn until they get to that point where I see they have it under control is blues, blues-sonnets, regular sonnets, villanelles, sestinas, haikus, tankas, and odes.’
    • ‘There were ballades, chants royal, kyrielles, pantoums, rondeaux, rondels, rondeau redoubles, Sicilian octaves, roundels, sestinas, triolets, villanelles, and virelais to play with, and poets of varying merit had a go.’
    • ‘We are still writing sonnets, villanelles, sestinas, even pantoums and triolets, ballades and rondels, as well as inventing ‘nonce’ forms to suit our uses.’
    • ‘The book abounds with sonnets, villanelles, a pantoum, sonatinas (he is also a musician) and what in my opinion is the most difficult of forms, sestinas.’
    • ‘What about writing sonnets and sestinas and villanelles?’
    • ‘Does it matter whether one writes villanelles, rondels, sestinas or kyrielles?’
    • ‘But much of the poetry is the same old sestinas and villanelles you see everywhere else under the reign of new formalism.’
    • ‘Of the writers under review, she is the only formalist and writes sonnets, villanelles, and sestinas so fluently she can make you forget, say, that you've just read a sonnet.’
    • ‘Concealed inside its villanelles, ghazals, canzones, sonnets, and prose poems are that country's unheard voices.’
    • ‘I wanted to write a million words, a thousand sonnets to her eyes, a hundred villanelles to her lips.’
    • ‘Here, in one of her truncated villanelles, is a sample of her attitude.’
    • ‘It is said that Sylvia Plath used to write villanelles in her science lessons to relieve the tedium of the subject.’
    • ‘I'd like to be a villanelle or a triolet or a rondel, but at the end of the day, I'm a sonnet.’
    • ‘Those folk forms were complemented by his astute experiments with traditional forms, such as the sonnet, villanelle, and ballad.’
    • ‘And there are countless things one can do as a writer - not to mention as a citizen - besides offering the world one's perfect villanelle or deconstructed lyric.’
    • ‘At one level he was a great traditionalist, using the sonnet form extensively and experimenting with the ballad and the villanelle.’
    • ‘The forms vary from open verse to haiku to a sonnet sequence to a villanelle.’
    • ‘The equivalent in poetry would be most obviously rhyme and metricality, or poetic forms that have repetition built into their progression, such as the sonnet and the villanelle.’
    • ‘Whichever reaction you have; the likelihood is that if you start from Thomas's villanelle as a model, you will be setting your sights much higher than if you start from Henley.’
    • ‘Think of the unforgettable verity of the perfectly phrased refrain, as in this perfect poem by Elizabeth Bishop, netted by that most obsessional and repetitive of forms, the villanelle.’



/ˌviləˈnel/ /ˌvɪləˈnɛl/


Late 19th century from French, from Italian villanella (see villanella).