A few of us had a discussion on the differences between ‘Free’ and ‘Strict’ form poetry. The topic still intrigues me so as an exercise I took an older piece ‘Land of Sin’ which was free form and tried to write it in strict form. I chose to re-write as a Villanelle and although it was never going to translate exactly from free form, I only managed to get the gist into the villanelle. Possibly a different, less strict structure would fare better.

I’ve posted the original after the new write. Both are very different and I can’t decide which I like best. I like the flow of both and the classic way the villanelle reads but also I like the detail and ‘punch’ of the original which better suits the subject. Opinions welcome.


A Deep Burning Shame


Do you know that life is not a game

Or for some it’s forever hurt and fight

Do you not feel a deep burning shame


What does it matter it’s only a name

Do not what you want but what is right

Do you know that life is not a game


You say you care but it’s always the same

They lie in dark you while walk in light

Do you not feel a deep burning shame


You despise the poor then applaud fame

And avert eyes to ignore the sight

Do you know that life is not a game


You offer no hand to help the lame

or raise an arm against evil might

Do you not feel a deep burning shame


Do you now see how we’re all to blame

Then ask yourself in tone clear and bright

Do you know that life is not a game

Do you not feel a deep burning shame



Always on the Stairs

her Life is silence

Mum sell her Wares

surrounded by violence

Though no blame, it’s always the same,

You claim to cry, then walk on by.

He holds out a Cup

asks his God again

not to wake up

so no more pain

Have you a part, deep in your Heart

to forget the cost and save the Lost

The voice she hears

destroys her Mind

no help for years

til a Body they find

It’s not a Game, don’t you feel shame,

you want to do more, then forget what you saw

He lives in Halls

clutching his Phone

there are no calls

he sits all alone

Are you aware, do you not care

under the Skin , lies a Land of Sin


4 thoughts on “A DEEP BURNING SHAME

  1. This is an oft-played debate. I do all forms and I think each piece has its own charm and it’s totally upto the poet as to how he/she wants to give shape to his/her thoughts/ emotions. Personally speaking, if I’m trying to compress a piece into a concrete form, I may have to make use of my brains to adhere to the rules of that particular form. Whereas free verse, as the name suggests, is free-flowing and that has its own beauty. But then, poetry is beautiful no matter what form.it takes, no? I must read your poem thouroughly, both the versions..Great post, Nigel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First, thank you for commenting. I’m new to specific forms and have little practical experience. It intrigues me, as do most things, when writing in strict form that as you say you must access different areas of the brain. My blog is loosely built around my personal take on art of all forms, that it is when imagination and intellect combine that the magic happens. For me, I need to feel emotion and have my thoughts turned on. As you say it is a personal thing . Thanks again for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In the photo, they both look like they could use some mending, don’t they?
    I like both of these poems. You know the villanelle is a favorite of mine. I think the repetitive nature of the form is effective in drilling home important points in the subject matter.
    The second one really has an emotional impact. I agree that it allows for a little more detail to be added, and it certainly has the punch you mention. That last line ties it all together nicely.
    I tend to like forms because I feel like the structure guides me if I’m at a loss as to what to write. I can see where one might find them limiting, but the only limits are what we put on our own imagination. It does take a different mental effort when you’re working with forms. Free verse is fun, obviously more freeing and one doesn’t have to think about rhyme scheme, syllable count, etc.
    All forms, even no form…it’s all good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for commenting. You’ve made some interesting points from the point of view of someone who prefers strict form whereas most of us straddle the fence. I’ve decided I prefer to write free form. Yes they do both need some mending ! But I also chose it because children often display and act with great care and empathy that can put adults to shame.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

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