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Unread 11-26-2018, 07:42 PM
Allen Tice's Avatar
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Default If I Could Tell You

No cow’s like a horse, and no horse like a cow. That’s one similarity, anyhow. - Piet Hein ----
I have always wished I had written this villanelle. It’s one of the few villanelles I like. It expresses a part of how I feel right now. It’s very good.

If I Could Tell You

Time will say nothing but I told you so
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reason why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away;
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.

by W H Auden

Last edited by Allen Tice; 12-16-2018 at 10:48 PM.
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Unread 11-26-2018, 11:23 PM
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I love this poem. I think "o" rhymes often work well in villanelles.
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Unread 11-27-2018, 02:23 AM
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Deleted...
.
.

Last edited by Ann Drysdale; 11-27-2018 at 02:29 AM. Reason: self-censored self-indulgence.
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Unread 11-27-2018, 08:47 AM
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Ann, whatever your self-censored thoughts were, I missed them by not signing in quick enough after Maryís post. Iím sure my life will be poorer.
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Unread 11-27-2018, 06:12 PM
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A further comment. I like this despite the somewhat shaky logic toward the end, where what holds it together is mood and its music. In that respect, its logic is that of the lyrics of many songs. One idea follows another without linking concepts such as “although”, which, where it appears, seems to be a “rhyme-driven” device to personalize the original. That must be bad. Very bad: being “rhyme-driven”. Read by a wider audience than the original recipient, its statement of love invites its use by others at any time. It was written in October 1940. The “vision” in the next to last stanza is obviously not random, but what does it refer to? A visit by “the muse” or something more concrete? I forgive that word. Almost.
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Unread 11-28-2018, 02:57 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is online now
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Allen, my earlier (deleted) post was a piece of self-aggrandisement related to an appearance in an anthology. I regretted it immediately.

The vision? I think it's just the rosy hope that entices one into eventual disappointment. Auden knew what he was referring to and perhaps the original recipient did, but, as a reader, I think it serves the poem better to provide one's own example than to guess at Wystan's.

By the way, I believe there's an "all" missing in your line seventeen.
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