Shall I Go To War?

A Villanelle, a historic folk form invented by 15th century French farmers

Shall I go to war?
     Answer in authoritative tone.
Shall I take up this sword?

     Like mighty men of folksy lore,
I consult ye here alone.
Shall I go to war?

If my armor’s bent and tunic’s tore,
     My skills are not quite honed.
Shall I take up this sword?

My spirit’s strength is poor,
     There’s weakness twixt my bones.
Shall I go to war?

Though scared, I’ll fight for thee, but nor
     For wealth or royal throne.
Shall I take up this sword?

If on a field my blood will pour,
     Give purpose to my fatal groans.
Shall I go to war?
Shall I take up this sword?

About chriskaspar

Music, Art, Jesus; These are things I love!
This entry was posted in Creativity, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Shall I Go To War?

  1. slpmartin says:

    Found the structure interesting…thanks for providing historical reference for it.

  2. Jamie Whitt says:

    I think it’s great. I liked the potential for layered meaning or reference, too. I’ll share my thoughts with you so you know what a reader felt during it:

    I read it the first time as someone from the Civil War era– I immediately saw the movie Shenandoah rolling behind the stanzas. Another time, I imagined a modern day man or woman debating fighting for (what could very well be) a “meaningless” war… The sword reference I took as either/both literal or metaphorical, also either setting the time period or referring to the Biblical taking up of the sword from Ephesians.

    Is the speaker talking to God? Talking to himself? Talking to a father or mentor or leader in the military? I think the diversity of could-be meaning makes a poem special.

    I read it another time, focussing on the middle of each stanza, and I thought of Gideon from the Bible, who could also be an analogy for modern day– spiritually or literally. Specifically these phrases:

    My skills are not quite honed.
    There’s weakness twixt my bones.
    Though scared

    I finally had to come with some sort of compromise amid all the could-be-what-you’re-talking-abouts, and from these phrases I took it as predominantly a piece about a struggling young person going into the battle of fighting for his beliefs amid the onslaught of pressure, criticism, pain of humiliation or abandonment, etc bad things etc.

    But what I really liked about it was that I still think the beliefs could be interpreted differently by the reader, and I like that you allowed for that freedom. It could be spiritual, most definitely, it could also be a fight for self. I imagined it could even be a fight for independence. Or maybe all of those fall under the same category…

    Whenever I read poetry, I’m always curious what the writer was *really* feeling when he/she wrote it, but it’s also fun to try to figure what it says to me. I think you did well here. You should do a painting or project to support it.

  3. Kais says:

    Additionally, check this out.

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