Villanelle: Goodbye to a Guitar


This is my first villanelle in a while. The last one was a few years ago, I think, but I didn’t keep it.

Goodbye to a Guitar

Goodbye and getting rid are not the same.
I lift you up and lay you in your case;
you echo as though hollowed of my claim.

I played you rarely and I played you tame,
but still you rumbled forth your chordal lace.
Goodbye and getting rid are not the same.

I strum amiss and try to slap the blame
by rapping on the crack that splits your face.
You echo as though hollowed of my claim.

One day, in chords alone, you asked my name,
which might have spelled an end to this embrace.
Goodbye and getting rid are not the same.

“I could have dropped you in a dump of shame,
brushed off my pants, and shrugged at your disgrace,”
you echo, as though hollowed of my claim.

O may you play in sweet strong hands, in fame
or home, and may my ear pick up a trace—
goodbye and getting rid are not the same—
You echo, as though hollowed of, my claim.


I made four changes to this poem (three punctuation changes and one word change) after posting it.

Guitar painting by Mark Beck. Courtesy of the Herron Guitars website.

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  • “Setting Poetry to Music,” 2022 ALSCW Conference, Yale University

  • Always Different



    Diana Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture and the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2018. In April 2022, Deep Vellum published her translation of Gyula Jenei's 2018 poetry collection Mindig Más.

    Since November 2017, she has been teaching English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. From 2011 to 2016, she helped shape and teach the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. In 2014, she and her students founded the philosophy journal CONTRARIWISE, which now has international participation and readership. In 2020, at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, she and her students released the first issue of the online literary journal Folyosó.


    On April 26, 2016, Diana Senechal delivered her talk "Take Away the Takeaway (Including This One)" at TEDx Upper West Side.

    Here is a video from the Dallas Institute's 2015 Education Forum.  Also see the video "Hiett Prize Winners Discuss the Future of the Humanities." 

    On April 19–21, 2014, Diana Senechal took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's programme The Forum.  

    On February 22, 2013, Diana Senechal was interviewed by Leah Wescott, editor-in-chief of The Cronk of Higher Education. Here is the podcast.


    All blog contents are copyright © Diana Senechal. Anything on this blog may be quoted with proper attribution. Comments are welcome.

    On this blog, Take Away the Takeaway, I discuss literature, music, education, and other things. Some of the pieces are satirical and assigned (for clarity) to the satire category.

    When I revise a piece substantially after posting it, I note this at the end. Minor corrections (e.g., of punctuation and spelling) may go unannounced.

    Speaking of imperfection, my other blog, Megfogalmazások, abounds with imperfect Hungarian.

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