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A Sentimental Villanelle

This year I’m wrapped in Christmases of old—
The tinseled tree and glee of hearts on high.
My mood is laced with myrrh and graced with gold.

The air is spiced with mulling wine as cold
Fleurettes of snow illume the twilight sky.
This year I’m wrapped in Christmases of old.

I hear his tell-tale bells and see a bold
Vermilion glowing nose as dawn draws nigh.
My mood is laced with myrrh and graced with gold.

I revel in a joy that’s uncontrolled—
The childish laughter in a merry eye.
This year I’m wrapped in Christmases of old.

The wonders of my yesterdays, I’ll hold
Forever in a world that’s gone awry.
My mood is laced with myrrh and graced with gold.

Today I’m letting blissful cheer unfold
To bloom within a wistful, miss-you sigh.
This year I’m wrapped in Christmases of old—
My mood is laced with myrrh and graced with gold.

.

.

A Christmas Terzanelle

I lift my eyes to Heaven’s brightest star.
I cast my Christmas wish beyond the moon
And thank You, Lord, for all You were and are.

I pray You tread this troubled planet soon.
Three kings and hosts of angels sweeten dreams.
I cast my Christmas wish beyond the moon.

As this fierce world still sins and spins and schemes,
I feel Your gaze and see Your blazing light.
Three kings and hosts of angels sweeten dreams.

I know You always hold me in Your sight.
You guide me through the dark to dawn’s new day.
I feel Your gaze and see Your blazing light.

I see a manger filled with love’s true way—
Your glorious golden gift, our saving grace,
Will guide me through the dark to dawn’s new day.

My Christmas beams with Your Son’s blesséd face—
Your glorious golden gift, our saving grace.
I lift my eyes to Heaven’s brightest star
And thank You, Lord, for all You were and are.

.

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Susan Jarvis Bryant is from Kent, England.  She is now an American citizen living on the coastal plains of Texas.  Susan has poetry published in the UK webzine, Lighten Up On Line, The Daily Mail, and Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets).


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28 Responses

  1. Daniel Kemper

    Terrific technique as always. Sentimentality rendered fresh, who else but you could do it. Hybrid forms I’m a sucker for as well, so the Terzanelle had me too. The tones so well match a season insufficiently celebrated no matter how great our strains. Thanks for these and merry Christmas!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Daniel, I appreciate this comment from someone who casts a fresh eye in the direction of form and subject matter. I am glad you enjoyed the Terzanelle (a first attempt for me) and wish you a poetic 2022. Thank you very much.

      Reply
  2. Martin Rizley

    Beautiful poetry, Susan! I love the way you develop your thoughts with creative freshness, linguistic vivacity and heartfelt emotion within the tight constraints of classical forms like the villanelle and terzanelle. You capture the mixed moods of festive delight and wistful nostalgia associated with this season of the year. I also love the way that you include yourself among the kaleidoscope of Christmas images by describing yourself as “wrapped” like a package. The second poem is a touching expression of faith and hope looking beyond present darkness on this “troubled planet” to the guiding light that flows from the face of Him who was born in the manger– God´s “glorious golden gift” to the world.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Martin, thank you very much. To have the benefit of your fine eye on this miraculous subject and how it translates poetically is an honor. I’m glad the words meet with your approval. Here’s wishing you a beautiful 2022!

      Reply
  3. Peter Hartley

    Another scintillating pair of tours de force from the master-craftspersonage of all such difficult verse forms as these, the villanelle and the terzanelle. I’m afraid I’ve never even heard of a terzanelle, so that got me examining the rhyme scheme at an unseemly close range). The great thing about these poems is that they don’t proclaim their villanellhood or their terzanelliousness: they sit comfortably in their tightly knit clothing as though they were made for it. They are evout and ingenuous, and they gain greatly in immediacy from being written in the first person.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Peter, thank you very much for your wonderful comment. I thoroughly enjoy experimenting with different forms, but I never like my chosen form to detract from the message… I want it to do the opposite and enhance it – “they don’t proclaim their villanellhood or their terzanelliousness is music to my ears and terzanelliousness is worthy of a poem in itself. What a spectacular word… I love it! With much gratitude for your fine eye and superlative humour… you have brought immense joy to my day!

      Reply
  4. Sally Cook

    How good to hear you rhyme on Christmas time.
    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas eve and a magic Christmas day.

    Love from all of us
    Sally

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      How good to hear you at your best
      A world with you is heaven blessed.

      With love from me, Mike & George Lionel

      Reply
  5. Norma Okun

    I wish you and your family a very wonderful Christmas. Your poems are a tribute to the holidays. Thank you for all the things you write about. You always show a lot of feeling in your rhymes. Perhaps I judged you wrongly once and now I am admitting I was probably wrong in things I said. Have a wonderful and enjoyable holidays and happy New Year to you and your family.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Norma, I really appreciate your comment. I’m glad you’ve found a little bit of me between the lines of my poetry. I feel passionate about certain subjects and do my best to get that across… creatively… artistically… poetically… never literally but always seriously. Wishing you a beautiful 2022! Thank you for your honesty. It means a lot.

      Reply
      • Norma Okun

        Thank you, Susan for your kind words. I hope for a wonderful New Year 2022 for you and yours. I am glad I happened to meet your words and deeply enjoyed the poems.

  6. Yael

    Very nicely done Susan, and so befitting the Spirit of the season. It makes me happy to learn a new thing again today: Terzanelle. Thank you and Merry Christmas to all.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you, Yael. I’m glad you’re intrigued by the terzanelle. I simply couldn’t resist giving it a go… and miraculous things bear repeating… especially at Christmas time. I hope you had a good one and wish you all the very best in 22.

      Reply
  7. Margaret Coats

    Susan, you set yourself quite a challenge for Christmas poems, and these are not merely creditable examples of their forms, but a pair linked by your usage of “grace” and “gold.” Lovely gifts for a close reader!

    I like the use of “Fleurette,” which to me is a name borne by a young friend of French extraction. Her parents wanted to name her after The Little Flower, but did not like “Therese.” Is your “fleurette” a way to make “flurry” an iambic word?

    On the terzanelle, yours is the first devotional one I’ve seen. Lewis Turco, inventor of the form, used to have on his website a most informative post about the terzanelle. It included all nine terzanelles he had written since 1965. Sad to say, he seems to have taken it down. You undoubtedly know that his “Terzanelle in Thunderweather” is the usual example of the form, and I agree it’s a good one, but we need more good ones. My tip to you and Peter Hartley and others who might be interested is to put “A Box of Truth by Heather Ober” into your search engine. Marvelous poem written in 2013 that sounds like today. More atmospheric and less harsh is “Hirtle’s Beach by Heather Ober.” I recommend using title with author name in a general search engine like duckduckgo or bing or google. Other means of searching tend to miss these poems.

    As always, reading good models counts for a lot in producing good poems of any form. Your “Christmas Terzanelle” is a good model. Another tip is to realize that villanelle and terzanelle are stanzaic forms not limited to the usual number of stanzas. I don’t know of any good terzanelles with more or fewer stanzas, but there are some villanelles, as this form has been with us longer. May Probyn’s “In every sound I think I hear her feet” has 8 stanzas, and there are 10 stanzas in “I did not dream that Love would stay” by Graham R. Tomson (which is a pseudonym for Rosamund Marriott Watson).

    The only other good Christmas villanelle I know is “Villanelle de Noel” by Tom Scott (in readable Scots dialect).

    Wouldn’t you know that an academic would give you a reading list for Christmas? No test or due date, however.

    Happy New Year!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Margaret, your comment is a treasure trove of wonder that I can’t wait to sift through for the brightest gem. I thoroughly admire your knowledge surrounding form, especially your knowledge of those poets who dance on the periphery and pirouette off of the stage before anyone’s had the pleasure of seeing their spectacular performance. I will most certainly be looking them up.

      To me, snowflakes are like little blossoms. I wanted a word to get that image across and couldn’t find one that met the strict stress requirement… until I searched and searched and came across “Fleurette”. I had no idea that this was a name. I love it and I’m tempted to add it to my own middle name. Susan Jeannette Fleurette Jarvis Bryant… what a beautiful ring that has to it!

      I thank you for my Christmas reading-list gift and wish you a very Happy New Year! Thank you for bringing your year-round gifts to SCP. I thoroughly appreciate them!

      Reply
  8. D.J.Etchell

    read with some sadness — a dying world– terrific word skills as usual– have a great Christmas Hol.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Dave, your comment has made my Boxing Day. I only wish you’d submit some of your amazing sonnets to this site. You have an audience who would thoroughly appreciate them. Your achievements are immense! Thank you for your inspiration.

      Reply
  9. Brian Yapko

    Susan, both of these poems are exquisite and heartfelt — poetry as the perfect Christmas gift. I adore each gossamer line and will surely come back to read these lovely poems of faith in the face of “a world that’s gone awry” again when company leaves and things settle down. I especially admire the Terzanelle which is a form with which I’m unfamiliar but which has rich message-enforcing repetitions and musicality. Hoping you had a wonderful Christmas and wishing you and Mike a very happy 2022!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, thank you for taking time out during the wonderful festivities to comment on my poem. I am glad your head has been turned by the terzanelle and thoroughly look forward to reading your first attempt… I know you simply have to give it a go in 2022! With much appreciation for all your fine works, your perspicacious comments, and your passion for poetry… your joy surrounding this art is contagious.

      Reply
  10. John Larson

    “This year I’m wrapped in Christmases of old—”
    Hmm, I wrote this for just a day, a few years ago now.

    For the Road

    After all the lights and all the bows
    No longer promise brightly
    After all the songs and all the bells
    Fall silent as the night
    I wish you love

    Though be blushes under mistletoes
    And warm hellos but embers
    When all the hearths and hearty smells
    And farewells fade to dim
    I wish you love

    As life once more in traffic flows
    And heralds lose their smile
    When once again time’s teller tells
    To earth we must return
    I wish you love

    As gift the hand and heart bestows
    Become but things to keep
    And lines and walls and citadels
    Grow real and hard again
    I wish you love

    To all my friends and all my foes
    Of thought or word or war
    To all bound souls in chains or hells
    Whom I cannot set free
    I wish you love

    Our lives are as the candle glows
    Not boxes we might flatter
    Though strength my heart for breaking spells
    Nor webs that hold can offer
    I wish you love

    .

    Reply
  11. David Watt

    Susan, I find myself firstly admiring the content of each poem: the joy of
    being “wrapped” up in Christmases of old, reminding us that Christmas itself is a gift better than any found under a tree; and in your second poem, a highly personal expression of the Christmas message.
    Secondly, I look at the form behind each poem, and appreciate the skill in making the ‘bones’ unassuming in comparison to the words.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      David, I really appreciate your attention to the fine details of my poems in your beautiful comment. “… the skill in making the ‘bones’ unassuming in comparison to the words” is my personal goal when writing poetry. I love trying out different forms, but never want the form to detract from the message… I’m thrilled I succeeded with these. Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy, and poetry filled new year!

      Reply
  12. Russel Winick

    Susan:
    Reading your poems always makes me feel like I’m sitting in a classroom, learning from a poetry master. Pity that I wasn’t interested in it 100 years ago, when I really was in school! Nonetheless, as we used to say back then – “Thanks, Teach!”

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Russel, I’m blushing… I’m still learning from others on the site and will never stop learning. I always think of myself as a student and suck up all the wonders of SCP like a sponge. I always know I am only as good as my last poem… I hope my next one is better. 😉 I look forward to reading more of your poetic gems in the new year. I love the wisdom and brevity of your works… bite sized poetic treats delight my literary palate… bring them on! 😉

      Reply
  13. C.B. Anderson

    If you could set the words of the villanelle to music, Susan, then you just might come up with a perennial Christmas carol, and the royalties will just keep rolling in.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Ahh, what a beautiful thought, C.B. If only I were blessed with musical skill… the recorder is as far as I got in that area… instant death for a lyrical villanelle I’m afraid.

      Reply
  14. Tamara Beryl Latham

    Susan, both poems (the villanelle and terzanelle) are brilliant and trumpet the peace and serenity of yesteryear. You’ve captured our hearts with your words of truth, referencing what is occurring in the current world arena.

    Yikes! I’m holding on by my teeth and can’t wait to leave. 🙂

    Like you, I too miss the days of old and continually pray for Jesus’ second coming with His entrance through the walled-off Eastern gate (Golden gate) in Jerusalem.

    I wrote a similar poem years ago titled “The Path Through Time,”
    although it isn’t penned, like yours, in a classic form of poetry.

    Thanks for sharing such wonderful poems with us.

    Reply

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