Eclipse

I thought I was prepared but I was wrong.

Sir Isaac’s calculations can’t predict

my punctured breath, the blackbird’s broken song.

 

This Midwich Cuckoo of a night has pricked

the watchful eyes of ancestors long dead

Sir Isaac’s calculations can’t predict.

 

A magic lantern show plays overhead

reflected in the bonnet of my car

the watchful eyes of ancestors long dead.

 

A tiny lump of rock obscures a star

to leave me moonblind, seeing nothing more

reflected in the bonnet of my car.

 

This world’s a sand grain on an endless shore.

The little things still take me by surprise

to leave me moonblind, seeing nothing more.

 

And now the moon of loss blacks out my skies.

I thought I was prepared but I was wrong.

The little things still take me by surprise:

my punctured breath, the blackbird’s broken song.

 

© Helen Lewis 2009

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One response to “Eclipse

  • helenmlewis

    This is an example of a villanelle – a notoriously tricky form of poetry, the most famous example of which is probably Dylan Thomas’s ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’.

    A villanelle has nineteen lines arranged in five tercets (three-line stanzas) followed by a quatrain (a four-line stanza). There are two refrains (repeating lines) and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first stanza repeated alternately until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines. There’s no set metric (rhythmical) form. In this villanelle I’ve used iambic pentameter.

    It witnessed a near-total eclipse of the sun in August 1999. It worked its way into this poem ten years later. 🙂

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