If You’re a Beggar, Be a Chooser Too (Villanelle)

If you’re a beggar, be a chooser too,
For less is more and more can be a curse.
The world will offer anything to you.

You must discern the useful from the dross.
With patience, judge, for better or for worse.
If you’re a beggar, be a chooser too.

Within each gain their lies a hidden loss.
Some men will give you poison for your thirst.
The world will offer anything to you.

You will be left alone to count the cost.
Beware of saints that you must reimburse.
If you’re a beggar, be a chooser too.

Those in their homes are safe from rain and frost.
Your wisdom is your shield, uphold it first.
The world will offer anything to you.

Though some would say: “All wanderers are lost”,
True wealth was never found inside a purse.
If you’re a beggar, be a chooser too.
The world will offer anything to you.

 

Dear Restless One

You’ve traveled up the lonely mountain side.
You’ve traveled deep within the city walls.
You’ve spoken truth when others would have lied.
Courageously you’ve answered duty’s call.
You’ve traveled over oceans, childlike.
You’ve traveled underground, through caverns cold.
You gave your all to rich and poor alike.
Indeed, you gave yourself unto the world.
Are you now brave enough to go within?
Adventure on, but dare to seek thyself!
Be still, for in that stillness life begins.
Be still, leave wanderlust for someone else.
You’ve traveled far enough, dear restless one.
You’ll win the race when you have ceased to run.

 

Release All Fear, Embrace Your Destiny

Release all fear, embrace your destiny
This life was not made only for the cruel
Too often are the humble slow to lead
While arrogant deceivers rush to rule

The luxury of insecurity
Is one this world can’t easily afford
Each one of us have debts that must be paid
The time has come to settle and move forward
With boldness now, bring forth your highest gifts!

Awaken from the slumber of your pain
Rejoice in opportunities un-missed
The greatest chance of all is called: Today
Create a peace within your wild heart
Then go forth, and exalt your sacred art

 

Courtney Dowe is a poet, adventurer and singer/songwriter.

Related Post

‘Island City: Auckland’ and Other Poetry by Jan ...   Island City: Auckland I’ve grown to love this place of sea and noise Where buildings have assumed a regal poise As high they stab on sultry...

7 Responses

  1. Liusaidh

    What a wonderful and deft handling of the notoriously difficult villanelle form!

    Reply
  2. G. M. H. Thompson

    Very nice poems– I particularly like how the rhyming of the villanelle was handled– far too often poets fall into the trap of rhyming aba aba aba aba aba abaa, which works in French because French has so many rhymes but does not often work in English, because it is a rhyme-poor language (finding seven words that rhyme and fit naturally with what the poem is saying can be a daunting undertaking). Your novel scheme of aba cba cba cba cba cbaa nicely reduces some of the rhyme-stress inherent in the form and also makes it seem less monotonous. I also really appreciate that your b and c rhymes had consonance, Plathian near-rhyme with one another– it have the piece back some of the “villanelle”ness that was sacrifices in forgoing the traditional rhyme scheme.

    The metrical discipline was also fairly good (lacking error in the first two poems and having only two slight ticks in the final sonnet) and much appreciated by these eyes; too often poets, even poets who aspire to write like Keats and Shelly, are too lazy and careless to craft careful, correct metre.

    One slight suggestion one might give as an editor is that every line does not have to end in a period, semicolon, comma, or any other type of punctuation, and that it is often effective to have lines that do not end in punctuation, as this keeps the readers’ eyes moving to the next line instead of stopping them cold, as punctuation often does (especially periods), but that is a very minor criticism, and I think that it is more important for each line to be able to stand in it’s own, and these poems succed marvelously on that front. The final poem should perhaps be properly punctuatd, however, as it seems a bit unfinished as it is (either that or first-word-of-the-line capitalization should be done away with, to give the piece a kind of rusticity of style (besides, that’s far more fasionable nowadays)).

    The themes were good, if a bit Georgian. Overall though, a very fine job and quite enjoyable to read.

    Reply
    • Courtney Dowe

      Wow! Thank you for putting so much thought and effort into your response. I am a self-taught poet, unless you count English classes in high school. It is invaluable to have knowledge based constructive criticism as well sincere positive feedback. Thank you again for sharing both.

      Reply
  3. G. M. H. Thompson

    Very nice poems– I particularly like how the rhyming of the villanelle was handled– far too often poets fall into the trap of rhyming aba aba aba aba aba abaa, which works in French because French has so many rhymes but does not often work in English, because it is a rhyme-poor language (finding seven words that rhyme and fit naturally with what the poem is saying can be a daunting undertaking). Your novel scheme of aba cba cba cba cba cbaa nicely reduces some of the rhyme-stress inherent in the form and also makes it seem less monotonous. I also really appreciate that your b and c rhymes had consonance, Plathian near-rhyme with one another– it gives the piece back some of the “villanelle”ness that was sacrificed in forgoing the traditional rhyme scheme.

    The metrical discipline was also fairly consumate (lacking error in the first two poems and having only two slight ticks in the final sonnet) and much appreciated by these eyes; too often poets, even poets who aspire to write like Keats and Shelly, are too lazy and careless to craft careful, correct metre.

    One slight suggestion one might give as an editor is that every line does not have to end in a period, semicolon, comma, or any other type of punctuation, and that it is often effective to have lines that do not end in punctuation, as this keeps the readers’ eyes moving to the next line instead of stopping them cold, as punctuation often does (especially periods), but that is a very minor criticism, and I think that it is more important for each line to be able to stand in it’s own, and these poems succed marvelously on that front. The final poem should perhaps be properly punctuatd, however, as it seems a bit unfinished as it is (either that or first-word-of-the-line capitalization should be done away with, to give the piece a kind of rusticity of style (besides, that’s far more fasionable nowadays)).

    The themes were good, if a bit Georgian. Overall though, a very fine job and quite enjoyable to read.

    Reply
  4. Wilbur Dee Case

    Courtney Dowe,

    I agree with G. M. H. Thompson’s assessment of your rhymes, and concur with his excellent point about punctuation in your last poem.” Both he and Liusaidh are right about the fineness of your villanelle; though I do admit to not thinking it “too Georgian.” It is extraordinary for its musicality, its simple, abstract diction, and its thematic handling. Your playful artifice is closer in spirit to its French progenitors than those written by writers, such as E. A. Robinson, James Joyce, William Empson, W. H. Auden, Dylan Thomas, Elizabeth Bishop, Theodore Roethke, and Sylvia Plath.

    Reply
    • Courtney Dowe

      Wilbur Dee Case,

      It is truly a joy to receive such thoughtful and encouraging feedback. Thank you. I am familiar with some, but not all of the writers you referenced. I’ll have to do a little homework. I’m glad you picked up on the playfulness, these writings are very much a form of recreation and my Joy is increased in knowing that it might be shared.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.