How Can We Know?

A villanelle

How can we know where we go when we die;
Pondering signs, looking up at the sky,
Wondering if Someone’s hearing my cry?

Which religion is right, which one a lie?
Too much in common to outright deny;
How can we know where we go when we die?

Can things exist I don’t see with my eye?
I’m not the only one that’s asking why;
Wondering if Someone’s hearing my cry.

If my God is real and He reigns on high,
Then life has a purpose that money can’t buy.
How can we know where we go when we die?

Do you have the answers? Sorry to pry,
I sit here no matter how hard I try,
Wondering if Someone’s hearing my cry.

Questions persist as I let out a sigh,
Searching for answers, yet time passes by,
How can we know where we go when we die;
Wondering if Someone’s hearing my cry?


If My Garden Will Grow

A villanelle

How will I know if my garden will grow?
Rise with the dawn as the rooster does crow;
It will take time till you reap what you sow.

You’ll need some seeds so there’s something to hoe;
Grouped in an order, arranged in a row.
How will I know if my garden will grow?

Have enough water, above and below –
More than a trickle, you’ll want it to flow;
It will take time till you reap what you sow.

Watch out for fauna, both rabbit and doe;
they eat new leaves and will fast be your foe.
How will I know if my garden will grow?

Perhaps try a scarecrow, if you can sew,
So that those creatures will come and then go.
It will take time till you reap what you sow.

It’s really hard work, not free from woe;
You’ll catch on, before long you’ll be a pro.
How will I know if my garden will grow?
It will take time till you reap what you sow.


Caroline Bardwell is a resident and native of upstate New York. She is a professional geologist, a mother, a woman of faith and a lover of music, art, literature and nature. She has a great appreciation for the structural guidelines and musicality of formal verse.

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19 Responses

  1. Jenni Wyn Hyatt

    I love the villanelle – and these are certainly questions that I ask, too. Thank you, Caroline.

  2. Joe Tessitore

    How can we know? ’cause Jesus tells us so: “Blessed are they who have not seen…”
    How will I know if my garden will grow?
    you can plant a seed and you can watch it grow
    but you can’t have a guarantee
    ’cause everything that ought to be
    ain’t necessarily so
    Willie Nelson

    Loved them both! Well done Caroline!

  3. E. V.

    These are two beautiful Villanelles that I enjoyed reading. Please continue writing Villanelles and, of course, publishing them on the website!

  4. Trevor Siggers

    Hello Caroline
    Beautiful lines all in both poems that have a thread that connects your themes.
    Love the way you use a repeating question. The English playwright, Alan Bennett, made these two observations that you find resonates with you and your two poems here: “I write plays about things that I can’t resolve in my mind. I try to root things out”; “Life is like a box of sardines and we are all looking for the key.”
    Thank you for sharing these pieces and best wishes. Trevor

  5. Amy Foreman

    Really enjoyed these musical villanelles, Caroline! I look forward to seeing more of your work!

  6. David Paul Behrens

    Very intriguing poems, Caroline. Here’s one I wrote a few years ago:


    You are born and then you die.
    Life consists of the days between.
    Live and love, laugh and cry,
    The source of it stays unseen.

    As you grow, you never know
    How you came to be alive.
    You only know, the row you hoe
    Will help you to survive.

    Your organism will die some day,
    Like a flower, a dolphin or bird.
    As you pray to stay some way,
    Eternal souls may be absurd.

    Born into this world of wonder,
    Full of colors and infinity,
    Amid rain and sounds of thunder,
    Hoping to exist for eternity.

    For the record, I absolutely believe we are all part of something that has always been here and will exist forever. Not just part of something, we ARE the something.
    Thank you for sharing these profound thoughts.

  7. Caroline Bardwell

    Hi everyone! Very pleased to be selected and thank you all for your wonderful comments and references. The Society was technically my first acceptance though others were printed while it was in the queue. I have been trying a variety of forms (Pantoum, sestina, rondeau, ghazal) and submitting them to other markets to gauge reception. I’m new to the game but thrilled to join in the fun.

    • Amber Jasmine Stephens

      Leslie referred me to look you up and I love what I read. I am a poet aswell Nd new to sharing my work. Your exploration of different writing styles has inspired me. Thank you.

      • Caroline Bardwell

        Thank you Amber! She said she gave you my card.

  8. C.B. Anderson


    There is usually a B rhyme in a villanelle. You used the A rhyme throughout. I don’t know whether this makes it something other than a villanelle or not, but these two are mono-rhymes throughout, which may simply increase the degree of difficulty.

    • Caroline Bardwell

      Yes, I have written some with the b rhyme as prescribed, but since I’ve seen a lot of license taken with the English version of some these forms (e.g villanelle, ghazal), I felt it could still be classified as such, especially with the 10 syllables each line, and the standard repetition. Keeping the A rhyme had a great overall effect to me for both poems. And I like to challenge myself to see what I can do.

  9. Satyananda Sarangi

    Dear Caroline, greetings!

    It is indeed thrilling to read your villanelles – I fell in love with them I must confess. Really thoughtful ones.

    Best wishes for more success ahead. Waiting to read more of you.


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