The lure of the Neck – Villanelle for dVerse

I wanted to write yet another poem about the creatures of mythology to be shared on dVerse open link night.

The Neck is a shape shifting water spirit that lure women with his music and them pull them under. His attraction is connected to many sins like sex and music. The painting below by Swedish painter Ernst Jospehson has even been placed on a Swedish stamp once. It was a long time since I tried a Villanelle so I tried it this time.

Strömkarlen by Ernst Josephson

Strömkarlen by Ernst Josephson



in summer nights you hear his violin
but playing music is how Neck deceit
‘cause if you join him you can never win

he calls and promises the bliss of sin
I know you are attracted, by his heat
in summer nights you hear his violin

in moonlight you can see his marble skin
you are unwilling but still move your feet
‘cause if you join him you can never win

but to advice of elders you just grin
and for his lure I know your heart will beat
in summer nights you hear his violin

I beg you please to stay and join my kin
instead sit down and make your wedding sheet
‘cause if you join him you can never win

you want to dance and in the in river spin
he’ll pull you down below my maiden sweet
in summer nights you hear his violin
‘cause if you join him you can never win


May 07, 2013

66 responses to “The lure of the Neck – Villanelle for dVerse

  1. ah nice…the vilanelle repetitition works well with the theme…the vilanelle is my fav form poetry form…really well done björn…

  2. I always enjoy your use of form, and here I learnt about The Neck, which sounds a bit like the male equivalent of a siren…I’ll be careful around violin players in future : )

  3. Well. it’s no secret I love Villanelle…and again, this one is so beautifully executed. Love it’s subtle build Bjorn.

  4. very cool form sir, carrying its own music that lures us in…ha…and interesting on the neck and it speaking to the allure of the sins as well…not one to be toyed with…

    and hey i just wanted to say i appreciate you…i notice the work you are putting in reaching out to others…and it is def appreciated…and encouraging…

    • Of course sin is alluring.. 🙂
      I think he might be a relative the the Rheinmaidens from Wagner’s opera’s

      As for reading ,, Reading is more than half the fun of prompts. That’s the only way to develop my poetry.

  5. I really like the form..this one line really sticks
    out as I hear the bow against the strings – luring
    “in summer nights you hear his violin”

  6. I really like the music and images in this poem. I’ve never heard of the mythological character that you described, but I think you capture his spirit quite wonderfully and magically. Since when is sex a sin 🙂

  7. I know nothing of form…but if repitition is part of the villanelle…this certainly works. I found myself atrracted to the Neck…a kind of male Circe…and I know if I joined him, i too would never win…Nice piiece, Bjorn!

    • The repetitions is part of the Villanelle… the really hard thing is to get the repeated lines to change meaning depending on context… So probably when you read it, the intonation would change. This Villanelle was only partly good…

      The Neck has many relatives, and certainly waternymphs and mermaids…

  8. A new fable and a villanelle to descibe him and his callings and

    summer nights that call us anyway with thoughts of warmth and body…this hits the mark and leads us in to his “middle” world…thankyou.

  9. Myth, villanelle, seduction–perfect recipe. I really enjoyed this. You are brave writing the form, which I fine so difficult to write without clunkiness. Yours is as smooth as that mythical violin. With a bit of wax for each ear, I’d like to see a Neck. How delighted I am to know that sirens have a counterpart. 😉

  10. Good villanelles are like hen’s teeth … incredibly rare, so kudos for writing one in English. The pentameter is fabulous.

    • Thank you, I worked on it quite a lot.. but the repeated lines (esp the second) I really was never quite satisfied with. In the best one’s the meaning change by the context… and you are still locked by the rhyme.

      But I really love Villanelle, and will explore it further.

  11. Ah, the lure… 🙂 I am terribly lacking in knowledge of form but I certainly enjoyed what you did here and can imagine hearing the strains of violin temptation floating in the summer night’s breeze.

  12. Great form choice for your subject, Bjorn. I wasn’t familiar with the Neck before I read this, but it seems you’ve caught his spirit in the piece. Thanks for sharing!

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