« | Home | »

In a Villanelle Mood

Tags: |

In a villanelle mood, Colm Tóibín started the following poem. The immediate context was a remark by a colleague that our students (and indeed most of our colleagues) don’t seem to get excited about theory the way they used to. The title and first stanza are Colm’s, and therefore so are the rhymes. You can tell from the word ‘skid’ that I’m running out of options.

A Structuralist Lament

They don’t thrill at the sign as we once did.
They see Saussure as one more dead white male
Trapped between the ego and the id.

The Elementary Structures all are hid,
No Lévi-Strauss is heard to tell the tale:
They don’t thrill at the sign as we once did.

Semiotics had its day but flipped its lid,
Got lost inside the advertising whale,
Or trapped between the ego and the id.

Alas, poor Barthes, who cares for Ess and Zed?
When every morpheme’s up for sale
They don’t thrill at the sign as we once did.

And as for ‘Theory’ writ large, heaven forbid,
There’s nothing left but cakes and ale
Trapped between the ego and the id.

Myth and symbol slide and skid,
It’s lost for good, the fine old trail.
They don’t thrill at the sign as we once did,
Trapped as we were between the ego and the id.

Comments on “In a Villanelle Mood”

  1. Martin says:

    Well, sadly, it’s a sign of the times.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • IPFreely on Nuclear Footballs: According to usually reliable sources, before he became president Trump enquired several times about the availability of nuclear weapons and the presi...
    • Monteville on ‘I can taste the smoke’: It is too soon to demolish the building. The forensic investigation is still going on. There has been a proposal to cover the building, eventually, wi...
    • ksh93 on Nuclear Footballs: A recent article in the Bulletion of Atomic Scientists seems to indicate that late model US nukes have reduced reaction time for Kremlin which is like...
    • Matias Carnevale on Run-ins with the Gatekeepers: I translated his Autogeddon into Spanish last year. He was always witty, respectful and generous in our communication. My condolences to his family an...
    • kadinsky on ‘I can taste the smoke’: The PM mouths regret at 'the initial response' [ie, *my* initial response], praises the emergency services, and vows that everything will be done to b...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

Advertisement Advertisement