Poem introduction

'Villanelle for the Middle of the Way'. This poem was written in the strict form where you have two rhyming lines and a third between them, which are repeated all the way through the poem with other rhymes added to them and in attempting to write a villanelle, I always thought of T S Eliot saying that sometimes for the release of the deepest and most secret feeling, to use a very strict form is a help, because you concentrate on the technical difficulties of mastering the form, and allow the content of the poem a more unconscious and freer release.

Villanelle for the Middle of the Way

Villanelle for the Middle of the Way

When we first love, his eyes reflect our own;
When mirrors change to windows we can see;
Seeing, we know how much is still unknown.

Was it a trite reflection? What is shown
When we gaze deep begins the mystery:
When we first love, his eyes reflect our own.

Neither of us could cast the first stone,
And to forgive is tender. 'Now', thought we,
'Seeing, we know.' How much was still unknown

We later learnt. But by forgiveness grown -
As Blake discovered - apt for eternity,
Though in first love his eyes reflect our own.

What was the crime for which you would atone
Or could be crime now between you and me
Seeing we know how much is still unknown?

I know you now by heart not eyes alone,
Dearer the dry than even the green tree.
When we first love, his eyes reflect our own,
Seeing, we know how much is still unknown.


from Collected Poems (Carcanet, 1997), copyright © Anne Ridler 1997

Recordings

Anne Ridler

Anne Ridler Reading from her Poems

1Kirkwall 1942

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2At Parting

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3For A Child Expected

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4Expectans Expectavi

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5To Mark Time

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6Piero Della Francesca

7Venetian Scene

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8Backgrounds to Italian Paintings: Fifteenth Century

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9Michelangelo in the Accademia (Florence)

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10Deus Absconditus

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11Villanelle for the Middle of the Way

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12A Matter of Life and Death

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13Choosing a Name

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14The Gaze

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15Nothing Is Lost

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16Corneal Graft

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17Mirror Image

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18Free Fall

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19Snakeshead Fritillaries

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20Azizur

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21The Halcyons

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