Paul Hansford


For Mel (villanelle)


The one who should have lived has gone so fast.
The old ones, in their dotage, linger on –
they, with no future, live only in the past.

And we who can but sit, dumb and aghast,
scarcely believe that while the sun still shone
the one who should have lived has gone so fast.

Six decades older, surviving to their last
few days or years, together but alone,
they, with no future, live only in the past.

At least she kept on living to the last,
but should have had a future. She has none.
The one who should have lived has gone so fast,

and they, for whom so many years have passed,
are unaware that one they loved is gone.
They, with no future, live only in the past,

mark time until the final trumpet blast,
and never know the respite they have won.
The one who should have lived has gone so fast.
They, with no future, live only in the past.

Submitted: Thursday, April 24, 2008
Edited: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

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Comments about this poem (For Mel (villanelle) by Paul Hansford )

  • Rookie - 0 Points Jasmin Whyte (9/1/2009 1:22:00 PM)

    there is such a sad sense of loss in this poem, not only has a young person died, but two older people are also 'lost'

    and yet their grief must also be softened by being

    'unaware that one they loved is gone' (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Karin Anderson (sorry can't vote or comment) . (7/20/2009 3:17:00 AM)

    Within the set structure of the villanelle you have written this poem successfully and poignantly.
    The structured rhyme form and refrain, believe me, gives it so much more definition. It is so very creative and so very beautiful... 10 Karin Anderson (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Black Mendilouche (6/22/2009 1:43:00 PM)

    An obviously very moving subject which reminds me of the death of a daughter of a friend this week last year.

    That aside, I admire the structure of your poem, and like the fact that you carry one line over between one stanza and the next - I didn't even know you were 'allowed' to do that, so it has inspired me to experiment, thankyou! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Susan Jarvis (5/15/2009 3:39:00 PM)

    The form fits this philosophical and heartrending poem perfectly. Life's injustice shouts from the repeating lines, leaving the raw pain of loss burning in the reader's mind long after the final word of this truly admirable villanelle. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Danny Reynolds (7/6/2008 4:55:00 AM)

    I dread that I should ever feel this pain, but know you have eloquently questioned the unfairness of fate's careless finger.
    Danny. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Raynette Eitel (5/7/2008 10:13:00 AM)

    You show a mastery of the villanelle here, Paul...and it seems quite appropriate for the pain which comes in waves within this wonderful poem. I shall add it to my favorites.

    Raynette (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Katherine Sessor (5/1/2008 4:37:00 PM)

    So sad but so beautiful aswell. It's so deep and brings a tear to my eyes. Great Job! I love it! =) (Report) Reply

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