Tag Archives: Virelai

Armistice Day

Ceasefire

Bodybags, white gown.
Many soldiers drown.
Delay.

Parade on the down,
fireworks, parties thrown
in May.

She catches your frown.
A mindfield of brown
decay.

Now your life’s your own
you wish you’d been blown
away.

This poem is in the form of a lai (virelai), a medieval French lyric form which was revived in the 17th century.  It’s in units of three lines: a rhymed couplet in lines of five syllables, and a third line, containing only two syllables, which rhymes not with the preceding couplet but with the other short tail lines in the stanza.

I wrote it some years ago as an exercise to practise the form.  I think there’s an interesting contrast, some kind of friction, between the short lyric form which here gives a snapshot of the contrast between public display of glory and the personal life of the ex-soldiers struggling with their mental health issues.