Paradelle

February 22, 2012 § 2 Comments

Have you heard of this form? Poet Billy Collins made it up, to parody strict structured forms of poetry, with a footnote following his “Paradelle for Susan” that explains the rules for this (hardy-har-har) “French fixed form . . . of the eleventh century.”

I read the poem without at first realizing that he had made it intentionally awkward, though I did wonder about those dangling prepositions – because even while poetry lets you bend most grammatical rules, this was a bit much. I pointed these out to my mother (also a writer) and said, “Only Billy Collins could get away with that!”

I read the poem again and thought, How unnecessarily difficult!

And then I thought, I need to try it. I have liked writing sestinas, after all.

It turns out that while Collins proposed this form as a joke, subsequent poets have (a) not realized it and/or (b) decided to work with it, anyway. Red Hen Press has even published an anthology of paradelles that I’m curious to page through. So even if the revered Mr. Collins thinks this sort of thing is silly, the word nerd in me enjoys the puzzle, the playing with language.

Here’s some more info about the paradelle story and structure, and some examples: Paradelle, POA.

And here is my first attempt (feel free to give it the good ol’ workshop critique!):

—–

A Paradelle for Change

Where the bluebells end
Where the bluebells end
We come to the edge, laughing.
We come to the edge, laughing.
The end edge where we come
To the laughing bluebells

Is jagged, steep, a mile above
Is jagged, steep, a mile above
The river’s bending path.
The river’s bending path.
Above the jagged path,
Bending river, is a steep mile.

We fear not the gap. Hands hold
We fear not the gap. Hands hold
Together. We unfold our wings.
Together. We unfold our wings.
Our wings unfold, not fear. We, together.
The gap. We hold hands.

Where is the edge? The laughing
River’s mile gap above fear? We come,
We to the blubells, together.
A jagged,steep path. Not the end.
Hands bending, we unfold.
Our wings hold.

—–

Anyone else want to have a go? Send or link me to yours!

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