Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Villainess

I'm back. This may be the longest I've ever gone without blogging. I spent four hours yesterday scanning and repairing my laptop to I could avoid an endless loop of error dialogues at startup: "Windows Explorer has encountered and error and must close. We apologize for the inconvenience." Nice of Microsoft to apologize, I just wish it would quit showing me that error box over and over again. Ah well, it's gone thanks to a commandline tool and my original system disk. Thank goodness my ten year old Mac still works.

So anyway, one of the podcasts that will eventually be posted has a segment we did about the use of the humanities in medical education. I talked about some of my favorite female sociopaths in classic literature, and then a friend reminded me later about a couple others in literature and opera. So I decided I'd put my money where my mouth is and write a poem about female sociopaths.

Poetry is not new to Shrink Rap. A while back we had a post, The Cats Go Barefoot With Grace, in which I invited readers to submit poems using that line somewhere. (It originated in a comment on Dinah's post, The Secretary Who Couldn't Stop Talking. She had put up a hypothetical problem and asked for input. I got totally distracted by the sentence 'The cats go barefoot with grace.')

So anyway, the type of poem I used is called a villanelle. It's a very structured form that I've heard is the hardest to write. A villanelle uses two rhyming lines alternately in six stanzas, coupling them together at the end. The most well-known example of a villanelle is Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night," which uses the lines:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

My poem is called "Villanelle For The Villaness". I've included wikipedia links (the source of all definitive Internet knowledge) for those of you who want to read about the references I make in the poem. Here it is:

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Villanelle For The Villainess

For jealousy, ambition, and greed that will not quell
There is a poisoned cup or a tender knife.
The evil that women do, they do well.

Steinbeck loosed a feminine hell
In Cathy's charms with her liquid death, all
For jealousy, ambition, and greed that will not quell

Shakespeare knew, and could foretell
Through witches a lady's persuasive regicide.
The evil that women do, they do well.

Carmen, the fiery gypsy belle,
Once prison-freed she drove men mad
For jealousy, ambition, and greed that will not quell

Milady was destined for hell when
Dumas beheaded her for the musketeers' revenge.
The evil that women do, they do well.

A man may kill and risk a cell,
No clever plots for him, just shoot and drop. But...
For jealousy, ambition, and greed that will not quell
The evil that women do, they do well.

And no, I'm not quitting my day job.