Edited and Introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate.

Who says today’s poets ignore classical forms? In this week’s poem Peter Harris uses a villanelle to sing the praises of a Maine pond. More of Peter’s work can be found in “Freeing the Hook,” a new collection from Deerbrook Editions, due this fall.

Villanelle for the Pond
By Peter Harris

We gather at the pond so we can praise
not art but trees, water, echoing sky.
The cast arrives at five, never the same,

three or four or five of us a day,
plus a dock, swallows, a hawk. Turtles lie
on rocks at the pond’s edge as if for praise.

This is not music or poetry, not the sway
of work, but the sway of water, trees close by.
This cast arrives at five, never the same.

One swims straight for the dam, another dallies
by the dock, another sidestrokes away quietly.
We gather at the pond so we can praise.

Some bring grief; others are just dazed.
The pond’s an alchemist. The pond is kind.
The cast arrives at five, grows sane.

Each week, someone new, from away.
Each week, another someone says goodbye.
We gather at the pond so we can praise.
The cast departs at six, never the same.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2003 Peter Harris. Reprinted from “The Maine Poets: An Anthology of Verse,” Down East Books, 2003, by permission of Peter Harris. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, special consultant to the Maine poet laureate, at mainepoetlaureate@gmail.com or 228-8263. “Take Heart: Poems from Maine,” an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.

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