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the beloved rogue

i am given to recall today the following:


when i was sixteen, i found a hero in françois villon, in equal parts because of his inseparably stated occupation(s) on his wiki page "poet and vagabond". (the word may also be used figuratively, as for example by the critic arthur compton-rickett (1869-1937), who used it to denote a literary type, which he characterised as “with a vagrant strain in the blood, a natural inquisitiveness about the world beyond their doors.") i chanced to meet the man, i pretend to the authenticity of the recollection, in the encyclopædia britannica (more on which soon), although i don't recall if i merely bumped into him or was pushed. but the man who cemented our relationship was galway kinnel. this even though i could only admire the french and puzzle out the meaning of single words by side by side comparison.


and so, one day that year (that each of my ages corresponds precisely to a single calendar year is a blessing i cherish) i was inspired to, in tribute to this maistre, craft an entirely new poetic form, the villonelle (the origin of the word readily apparent, unless you're portmanteaun-deaf). as originally conceived, the form permits of a multitude of variations, but fundamentally consists of six lines, acrostically initialed with the letters of his name. as an example, i give just one of the handful of poems of that form (and indeed from all my juvenilia) which i can bear reproducing:



vision blurs
it occurs
less than half you see is true
lessons learned
overturned
never have a point of view



latter-day me wants to tweak the last line:



vision blurs
it occurs
less than half you see is true
lessons learned
overturned
not sure what's the point of view




i wanted to import from the villanelle the repetition of exactly three rhymes, but as conceived, it need not rhyme at all, or might have two rhymes, or even one. the acrostic defines the form. as with the villanelle there's no established meter. likewise no required quantity of syllables per line. if i was being true to the villanelle i was borrowing from, there should be some repetition and refrain, which could either be accomplished with f-r-a-n-ç-o-i-s v-i-l-l-o-n, or multiple v-i-l-l-o-n sestets (i did try my hand at both, back then). in fact, i would try to expand this one, but if i waited until then to post this... and as you can see from the haikuish syllable & line count, it's ever been my desire to compact expression (to wit, "brevity is the soul").




NB: part of the pleasure i take in making a form of his surname is that it's not known to history how he received his surname. in fact, the name "villon" was stated by the sixteenth-century historian claude fauchet to be merely a common noun, signifying "cheat" or "rascal", though this is not widely accepted.



and so then, reading villon's wikipedia page today (so much of which is lifted from the encyclopædia britannica), i just had to laugh. the books one has never read so outnumber the ones one has!

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