The Art of Knowing

Splinter within her that filters the truth
serves to remind her of all that is lost and will
leave her bereft and alone on the roof.

Sick now of dealing with moments aloof;
taking the step that unveils his deceit instills
splinters within her that filter the truth.

Watchful she follows a hunch on the hoof;
filling the cat with a poison that’s sure to kill
leaves her bereft and alone on the roof.

Rips through her mind and lets loose inner sleuth;
secret she finds, it reverses the sleeping pill –
splinters within her and filters the truth.

Years of duplicity swallow her youth,
agony lies in a future she can’t fulfill;
leaves her bereft and alone on the roof.

Act of accepting the burden of proof;
epistemology gives her that twisted thrill.
Splinter within her that filters the truth
leaves her bereft and alone on the roof.




~ This is a villanelle written in dactylic tetrameter (dactyl is stress-unstress-unstress), a-rhymes (truth/roof etc) are minus the two last unstressed syllables, ie masculine rhyme in a normally feminine-rhyming meter.   



Filed under Villanelle

32 responses to “The Art of Knowing

  1. Brendan

    Oh this is very, very good — A careful procession of cognitions (what would be the art of knowing otherwise) which locates truth in the pierce of a splinter, knowledge winnowed from pain, separating tears from blood, reversing the sleeping pill (sweet) of what I’ll guess is willed blindness in the name of desire. A “twisted thrill,” the passage of the splinter which spirals down to Ground Zero. Loved it, and you mastered the form.

    • Thanks Brendan. It’s only taken me 7 months to get round to replying, somehow missed it. The splinter was my starting point for this one, a sharp intruder that just niggles away at us, much like the knowledge that something is amiss even if we’re not prepared to acknowledge it fully.

  2. wow julie…this is excellent..this dactyls DUM-di-di rhythm gives the poem a balanced/unbalanced feeling and it makes it all lofty and open, it feels a bit like in a boat..rocked by the waves.. so i have no crit…i think it’s a perfect piece

    • Thanks Claudia, it took me a while to get into the rhythm the first time I read a piece written in it, but once you’ve got it, it really is very musical.

  3. And this was the woman who said ‘I’m pants at meter’ haha.. WELL… beg to differ… this is a rollicking wave of a poem… I’ve never seen this rhythm and it means that second line is incredibly powerful at thrusting into the next (behave..)

    Not only this though, your words choice is spikily precise – that first refrain so embodies your meaning, Julie, it’s sharp on the tongue.

    And lastly, this achieves what I think a villanelle is all about ..cumulative effect.. you build it up strong… And now I’m bowed under your burden of proof. Mission accomplished. Hope it’s not too twisted to say I enjoyed this!

    • Thanks Becky. I did have a little help getting the meter right. Luke wrote his McDonalds piece ‘Fat Neverland’ in it and once I’d gotten my head around the rhythm I was up for the challenge, plus I had a line I was sitting on that fitted the meter perfectly.

      Not twisted at all haha

  4. In awe…the villanelle absolutely tortured me! In awe (I meant to say that twice!) You’ll find no critique from me!

  5. i am inadequate…haha…that is the feeling i get reading…it is beautiful…love the internal rhymes and many in the opening that give drive to the verse…very well done…

    • Thanks Brian, inadequate indeed – what are you like? I usually have to pick my jaw up from the desk when I’m reading your stuff. Really enjoying contributing to dVerse, thanks for the opportunity.

  6. Melodious and intriguing… you make the villanelle look easy!

  7. emma

    Magnificent…something to aspire to perhaps. 🙂 You are a masterful poet…lovely piece.

  8. Gay

    I’d like to hear your about your approach to writing this. I learned much and enjoyed reading what Luke had to say about it. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to get my blinders off and take chances with established forms. I’m impressed that you did so.

    Why did you choose dactyls? Why did you keep the feminine(?) endings on the middle lines? I quite liked the rhythm of the lines with the masculine endings; and had the feeling the feminine line endings should wrap; although, since it’s your invention, really, you can make any rules for it you like. Also curious how you found your initial line. I’m always curious about “starts”. I have never-ending difficulties starting a poem. I never can find “the hook” and angst over beginning metaphors. I usually start with an ending and work backwards. Just curious how others go about it.

    The poem’s meaning has much that is unique and amazing. I am very impressed. Thank you so much.


    • Hi Gay, thanks so much for the great feedback. Gosh, writing, where to start? I think I write very organically. I very rarely sit down to write a poem about a particular subject or in a particular form. I don’t write well to prescription and have only done so occasionally in response to a challenge but I don’t really enjoy writing that way.

      The words always come first with me and I tend to think of them as very fluid, liquid almost, once they’re out of my head they tend to flow into whatever shape/form suits them best. In this case it was the first line

      ‘splinter within her that filters the truth’

      I felt that the villanelle structure would suit it but couldn’t find a way to fit the words to iambic so I just let the line sit in my notebook for a while. When I read Luke’s McDonald’s piece ‘Fat Neverland’ I realised that the rhythm fitted it perfectly and so built the piece around the first line and the meter.

      Whole poems often fall out of my head onto the page fully-formed. I think there might actually be a room in my head where poems ferment and then pop out when they’re done haha. I sometimes have to figure out what they mean myself! There are often layers in my pieces and it will sometimes take another poet to point it out for me to see it, although I think it’s there in my subconscious all along while the poem is taking shape. Am I making any sense? I think not, must be time for bed.

      Hope that helps Gay and once again thanks for the great feedback.

  9. Julie, I just realized today that you’re Carys!

    The rhyme and meter in this is excellent–I find the Villanelle difficult in its simplest reduction for whatever reason but what you’ve done with it is amazing. Something about it made me want to dance a waltz even though with the alternating meters it’s not quite 3/4 time.

    Related to Luke’s discussion in the introduction to the posts, your verbs are stunning.

    • Yes it’s me Victoria. Carys was my pseudonym on the poetry website I used to moderate on before I became an admin on FEPC. The name just followed me to my blog. It’s a Welsh name and means ‘love’.

      I know what you mean about the waltz timing it does have that feel to it.

  10. Still trying to get my head around the meter, there isn’t a vacant word here. Form is so easy just to slip a “the” or an “I” into an unstressed foot, find myself falling into that trap quite often and slapping my wrist.

    Loved this one the first time around, and I hope she has stepladders for the subsequent coming off from that roof!

  11. Tom Eliot

    In my opinion this is fantastically tragic (in the Greek sense)
    Great economy of words – marvelous dynamism
    Sharp and accomplished.

    Any body who can get a twisted thrill from anything related to epistimology is my kinda person. In my experience its the ontology that thrills the ladies but perhaps its time to change my tact…smiles

  12. I reread is over several times because I enjoyed the prosody so much – the metre (dactyls DUM-di-di) just rolls along. This villanelle has substance as well as form. I really don’t have a critique save the line “filling the cat with a poison that’s sure to kill” really jumped out at me. The final stanza is superb.

    • Thanks marousia. Was there anything in particular you didn’t like about that line? Did the rhythm feel a little clumsy or was it the meaning of the line that was the problem? We have a saying here ‘curiosity killed the cat’ which is where I was coming from. I’m always open to suggestions on how to fine tune a piece. Thanks for your feedback.

  13. This was lovely to read (as are all your pieces). I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this 🙂

  14. Years of duplicity swallow her youth,
    agony lies in a future she can’t fulfill;
    leaves her bereft and alone on the roof.

    this is my fav stanza — it points to exactly where this mind is coming from….nice meter, thank you..bkm

    • Thanks, yes that feeling of time having run out. Will try and get over to your blog sometime and leave some comments, been such a busy few days with the critiquing event. Thanks for the visit.

  15. I agree that it’s very well done, and I find such exacting forms difficult myself – however I’m not quite as enthusiastic as the others who have commented, because for me the variation in metre had me stumbling over the ends of some lines. Namely your b rhyme lines. You set up the dactyls so beautifully that my mind wants to go on with them, but each of those lines misses one unstressed syllable, to go LOST and WILL, SURE to KILL, etc. I kept having to go back and re-read to get the rhythm working right. Also I find dactylic rhythm a little too lilting for the often rather sombre metaphors.


    That sounds as if I don’t like the poem at all. Actually I do very much, but with those quibbles that stop me from liking it even more..

  16. I do know what you mean Rosemary, it took me a little while to get my head around the meter the first time I read a piece written like this. The trick is, as Luke said, to read it slowly and deliberately and once you’ve got it, it really does just roll off the tongue. Thanks for the visit, always great to have honest feedback.

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