The First Villanelle

I have lost my favourite bird.
Is that her that I hear sing?
I would follow undeterred.

You feel pain that love incurred,
And I feel no other thing.
I have lost my favourite bird.

With your love you have concurred;
Know that mine has taken wing.
I would follow undeterred.

Your complaint you may reword,
Mine is constant suffering.
I have lost my favourite bird.

My love’s beauty’s a byword
No one else such gifts can bring.
I would follow undeterred.

Let Death’s blessing be conferred.
In the grave my body fling.
I have lost my favourite bird.
I would follow undeterred.

© Billy Mills 2013

This is my version of Jean Passerat’s J’ay perdu ma Touterelle, the first known villanelle. It is being set for soprano, baritone and piano by Irish composer Derek Ball as part of a song cycle in which all the songs are villanelles. I just got to see the score for the first time.

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