After the Palace Burns (a villanelle)

This seedling has a secret life, untold

by sparrows sleeping softly in its ear.

This one small thing is heaven, shaking, bold,


its mossy buds recalcitrant to cold

and shadowing a blue-veined, faint frontier.

This seedling has a secret life, untold;


its frozen limbs a glassy world uphold–

as if all life should be this tight, this clear–

for this small thing is heaven, shaking, bold.


What wind could all its universe unfold!

Perhaps it takes a stranger who can hear

this seedling in its secret life, untold,


its sightless face emerging from the mold,

its features worn away into a smear

of my small piece of heaven, shaking, bold.


A palace burnt and all the gardens sold,

though God’s address is anywhere but here,

this seedling has a secret life, untold;

this one small thing is heaven, shaking, bold.

-Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei, After the Palace Burns. Zoo Press, 2003.


Filed under Whatchamacalit

10 responses to “After the Palace Burns (a villanelle)

  1. Erin this is a gorgeous rich piece of poetry. Every seedling does have a secret life, untold ~ potentiality is such a wonderful concept and each seed offers promise and hope beyond measure. Thank you for this fantastic share today~!! xo R

  2. Nice to come across a villanelle.

    • I know–I read part of it to the Aromatherapy workshop yesterday (see my next post)–it was so perfect. More than one person (including myself) had tears welling up in our eyes–such an profound experience of beauty.

  3. Don

    Seeds have always been a profound image for me. When I read this poem I felt deeply moved. I’m convinced that there’s a unfolding consciousness in seeds that speak wisdom in to our very own. For the last year I’ve been watching a little cactus that I’m growing. May sound a little funny, but in a strange way I have been profoundly mentored by it. Beautiful poem – thank you.

    • Thank you so much for your wise and moving words, Don. I agree with you entirely–“there’s an unfolding consciousness in seeds that speaks wisdom into our very own.” So beautifully articulated. Thanks for visiting.

  4. This poem took my breath away! What depth, beauty, hope and an inscrutable mystery that is held within the folds of a seedling. Send my deepest gratitude to your sister. With so many hugs and thinking of you with warm affection, Shaz

    • Oh, my dear Shaz, what lovely words–they warmed my heart so much. It’s so wonderful to hear from you, dear friend. I will most certainly share your kind words with Jennifer. I hope you and your family are well–my thoughts and blessings go your way.

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