This is a picture of a sorrowed man praying. I've chosen this image because it augments my villanelle which is about grief

If life has meaning, then do tell me what it is
Do whispers of distress become a din of ache
Or do we wait in sorrow for outstanding bliss?

I’ve walked beside these rusty tracks, I’ve heard the hiss
Of broken trains. I’ve frequented regret’s long wake
If life has meaning, then do tell me what it is

Is it a puzzle that needs solving? A grim quiz?
Or do we conjure up lies for intention’s sake?
Or do we wait in sorrow for outstanding bliss?

I’ve heard the wails of pain from the perturbed abyss
I’ve seen the donjon crumble and I’ve felt the quake
If life has meaning, then do tell me what it is

Is it wild joy that’s toasted with champagne and fizz?
A guileless thrill for skewers, well-done steak, and cake?
Or do we wait in sorrow for outstanding bliss?

I’ve held her, and I’ve lost her like a bygone kiss
I’ve felt my torment echo and my stronghold shake
If life has meaning, then my grief is all there is
Or do I wait in sorrow for outstanding bliss?

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

17 Replies to “A villanelle for the broken”

  1. So melancholic. I’ll confess I had to look up what a villanelle is. As I was rereading your poem, I couldn’t identify the required structure and then I realized my phone was probably screwing it up. So I rotated it to see if viewing it in landscape would help and it transformed it into its proper form. Anyway, well done.

  2. This is so heart-felt, Nitin. It rings beautifully true. And a brilliant villanelle to boot. (I’m still trying to answer your most-welcome email… it will get done, when I can do it justice!)

    1. Thank you Bruce. Inspiration comes and goes these days. I wrote this during one of those rare periods of hypomania. (And lol! Take your time!)

    1. Thank you so much Emily. I miss you too and all the crazy talk in weird accents! And captain Vijay! How is he? Are you still ghosting him!! Let’s catch up. I’ll message you on hangouts. How’s everything otherwise? I hope you’re well.

  3. Dear Nitin, this is a beautifully penned heartbreaking and emotional villanelle, it addresses questions of ‘why’ with a tender and profound voice. The entire piece found its way under my skin, causing pause and reflection. The line that held me captive, “I’ve frequented regret’s long wake”, I sat with it for a long time. ;) I think hope allows us to be resilient enough to wait. Will it be outstanding bliss? I don’t know, yet I believe it will be something worth waiting for though. ~ Mia

    You’re one of my people! 💖
    => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBY-Ka0-USo

    1. Dear Mia,

      Thank you so much for such a wonderful comment. The question ‘why’ is one around which my whole life has revolved around for years now. Don’t we all frequent regret’s long wake or attend melancholia’s call when she beckons us. Like you once said to me, anyone who denies that there’s sorrow in their essence is a liar. I hope there is outstanding bliss at the end of this tiresome pilgrimage. Otherwise it’s a curse to be born. But enough pessimism. I think I’ll share your sentiment of the end being something worth waiting for. -Nitin

      P.S. I enjoyed listening to the song. Thank you for being you ❤️

      1. You’re most welcome, Nitin, and thank you for a lovely reply. For me it’s easy to empathize with questions of the ‘why’, it’s an awful merry-go-round with little reward. Thoughts of the ‘why’ can be horribly consuming for an inquisitive mind. I’m moving towards the conclusion that the ‘why’ is unimportant and there are many things we’ll never know the answers to. Perhaps we should spend more time honing our astral projection skills and thinking up solutions for practical applications of four-dimensional objects! Who knows there could be a patent in the future! ;)

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