Form: The Villanelle. This comes from the pastoral round songs of renaissance Italy and has been called an acoustic chamber for words. Highly structured, repetitive, whole lines repeated in every verse, the rhyming scheme severely limited: aba, aba, aba, aba, aba, aba, it festers and broods over its subject matter. It is a song of mathematical precision, a verbal Rubik’s Cube. The rules are so restricting, it is a form I have so far avoided. With all the repetition it can easily become tedious. So, why is it such a necessary form to use here?
Form is meaning. The Shoah, genocide, crimes against humanity: going over and over the same old story, no narrative drive, no resolution; a little mad, a little obsessive, moving forwards, if at all, very slowly. Leading inexorably back to our starting point.
Ideas too of the canonic counterpoint of the fugue, one voice against another, looping, the same tune repeated against itself. Two stories, two songs pushing and pulling at each other: the ‘old’ songs are bloody ones too. The rise of nations, the killing of the firstborn… we are forever on repeat. And yet, like the fugue, some threads move away into a different order of magnitude.