Taking ship when the grey gulls call

This is for Ingrid’s EIF challenge. It’s a long time since I wrote a villanelle. Now I remember why…

Taking ship when the grey gulls call

With all the many things still left to do,
Before the night falls, bringing final dreams,
And the ship to take us where the grey gulls flew,

I let the seconds diamond-drip like dew.
Words wait, ink-dry, to fill white paper, reams,
With all the many things left still to do.

We planted roses, thought that when they grew,
Their blooms would fill the house’s cracking seams,
And the ship to take us where the grey gulls flew,

But their boughs are frail, and the changing hue
Of rainbows fading shows how water teems
With all the many things left still to do.

I’d memorise the thrush’s song, build blue-
Skied worlds with sunset words and golden beams,
And the ship to take us where the grey gulls flew,

For there is no time to start the world anew,
Nor chase the river where the far sea gleams,
With all the many things left still to do.

The balance tips, desires, plans askew;
We fill our hands with memories and streams
Of all the many things left still to do,
Before the ship takes us where grey gulls flew.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

57 thoughts on “Taking ship when the grey gulls call”

    1. It’s hard to get the new editor to do spaces. I’ve thought that too, that the spiel at the beginning sometimes looks like part of the poem. I’ll try to remember to stick it at the end.

      1. Thanks for pointing it out 🙂
        The worst thing though is the ads. I never see what WP does on my posts, but on other blogs, I have seen poems cut in half by an ad which is grotesque.

      2. I had to purchase the “personal” blog from WP. The ads were always a nuisance on the free blog but now you are right they are placing them right in the middle of posts ( at times they are extremely unpleasant) I think it’s a means to force one to buy in. It cost me $48.00 yearly so I gave in. 😒

      3. The first time I saw an ad in a poem I didn’t realise the poem wasn’t finished. It wasn’t even a poem with stanzas. They just ‘interrupted this poem’ to stick in an ad and the poem was resumed lower down the page. Crass.

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you found it dreamy. The hard part with these I find is keeping on subject when there’s the rhyme to fit in and the refrain line. It’s easy to wander.

      1. It is kind of funny. My husband laughs because I have to do all sorts of mental gymnastics to figure out how sections of the basement line up with other parts of the house. 🤣

      2. Oh that is so familiar! Mine talks about parts of the attic by saying where they are in relation to the barn or the chimney or the study and I go upstairs look around and haven’t got a clue where he means. Sometimes I can’t find my way out of the bedroom in the dark and have to shout for help.

      3. We had our eldest here today with her partner. They were a bit late because they had had to take a different route for some reason a lot of the exits from Bordeaux were blocked, and Marthe was navigating and she got right and left mixed up. She admitted that she always gets right and left mixed up. All eyes turned to me. Husband said, it runs in the family…

  1. I like the way the rhythm ebbs and flows like the sea, and I especially like the last stanza. I haven’t written a villanelle in a long time either. Every week it seems I do less and less. (K)

    1. Thank you. I hadn’t written one in ages either, and I think it will be a long time before I write another one.
      You probably do just as much but of different things. We need to prioritise. Villanelles probably aren’t very high on the list.

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