Olivia of the…etc (story)

It is a villanelle written for my granddaughter, Olivia, with a nod to Dylan Thomas (see the start of the fifth tercet.) He, of course, wrote one of the most famous villanelles, Do not go gentle into that good night, in a reaction to his father’s blindness (or perhaps his death, as some suggest.)

Olivia hated being fitted for new shoes as a toddler – but a pair of red shoes she was shown changed her demeanour dramatically, hence the poem.

Stephen Fry, the actor, writer and comedian – and an author on the technical aspects of poetry – reckons the villanelle “is a form that seems to appeal to outsiders, or those who might have cause to consider themselves as such.” Spot on for me!

The villanelle is said to be a difficult form, especially when strict line metre is used. But at least the lines repeat and rotate as in a dance – said to be a possible inspiration for the form. My tip for anyone attempting one: use easy rhyming words!