Martin Wakefield: Excerpt from The Blue Villanelles

Villanelle for the Birds*

aaa aaar arp arp aouk ak-ak-ak-ak-ak
jee jik jik jip jip kee-orrh korrh-korrh-korrh shrreee
caw chaarr chink chack chack chack chick-chick-chick-chick chak

wow-wow-wow yowk-owk-owk zeep yah whit tick tack
tystie tystie wot-wot wee-ploo-ploo tzitzi
aaa aaar arp arp aouk ak-ak-ak-ak-ak
heee-yoch-hyoch-och hicker wicker grraa-graa jack
chee-aw chee cheweecho-weecho-weecho-wee
caw chaarr chink chack chack chack chick-chick-chick-chick chak

shushushushu quickquickquickquick rookoo quack
b’wump but but boobooboo rronk bibibibee
aaa aaar arp arp aouk ak-ak-ak-ak-ak
zeezeezeezeezeezia weet-tsack-tsack-tsack
erz-erz-erz frarnk djadjadja dzee-dzee-dzee-dzee
caw chaarr chink chack chack chack chick-chick-chick-chick chak

gugnunc gung gobak-gobak-gobak-bak-bak
wee-jee jee-jee wizz did-ju-ee did-ju-ee
caw chaarr chink chack chack chack chick-chick-chick-chick chak
aaa aaar arp arp aouk ak-ak-ak-ak-ak

1st Villanelle for William Blake**

a bee will wake
all will be balm
I will walk

a lamb so meek
web will lie beam
a bee will wake

lamb bee all alike
all law a lamb
I will walk

a bee a lamb awake
I will I am
a bee will wake

a web of beak
lamb will be ill
I will walk

a lamb will like
bee will be ill
I will walk
a bee will wake

Villanelle for Eve***

in the beginning
the eight teeth begin
night biteth the thing

beginning being
teeth being nineteen
in the beginning

then thine thigh getting
height being eighteen
night biteth the thing

in the thigh high thing
teeth biteth night thin
in the beginning

ten teeth in being
getting eight nine ten
night biteth the thing

beginning being
teeth being nineteen
in the beginning
night biteth the thing

*Traditional villanelle using words from John Bevis’s Aaaaw to Zzzzzd: The Words of Birds (The MIT Press, 2010).
**This is in traditional villanelle form using only the words in Blake’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion than can be made using the letters of his name (“William Blake”) – an extension of Harry Mathew’s beau présent constraint.
***Another extended beau présent for “In The Beginning” using only words from Genesis and presented in conventional villanelle form. I should note that an earlier version of the poem, called In the Beginning, was published in Myth & Metamorphosis (Penteract Press, 2021)

Martin Wakefield


Martin Wakefield is a poet from London, United Kingdom. Jungle Gym, his new collection, will be published in October 2021 by Hesterglock Press, following Zugunruhe (2019). He has had work published in Idler magazine (2018), and anthologised in Myth & Metamorphosis (Penteract Press, 2020), Writing Utopia (Hesterglock Press, 2000), and The Mouth of a Lion (Steel Incisors, 2021)

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