Explication—“Come Drum!” by Cory Avra (11th grade)
“Come Drum!” by Avis Harley is an exceptional villanelle with a steady rhythm, and for the most part, as with all villanelles, it contains the easy rhyme scheme of ABA. However, unlike all the other villanelles, this one in particular stands out with its brilliant repetitive personification and imagery. In the first stanza, the reader is introduced to the topic of the poem, a drum. The middle line of the stanza sums up the rest of the poem by stating “Your humdrum frame has much to tell” in line 2. By claiming this, the author cleverly shadows the next four stanzas, which speak of various occasions on which a drum is used. The first occasion is with dance, exclusively jazz and ballet. Next it talks about the thunderous power of the drum, comparing it with the ocean’s crashing waves. Then, for the third occasion, the author brings an antique note into the poem by mentioning the drum’s participation in old songs coupled with voices that presumably surrounded the campfire on a dark night. Lastly, the poem enters a fiery atmosphere with the reference to fireworks and explosions. As a finale, the drum is anthropomorphized into the body of the reader by means of vibrant verbs such as “dance” and “pulse.” Despite the fashion of the poem, the stanzas still find beauty in their arrangement. Intriguingly, the author placed the dancing portion in the beginning, separating it from the last two middle stanzas, which also offer a scenario. The second middle stanza is different in that it compares rather than illustrates a scene. Perhaps the author simply desired to place the stanzas where he did in order to establish a smoother poem that flowed off the tongue like honey, or maybe he was unaware of the difference. Either way, the poem induces a magical feeling using imagery, personification, and comparisons, all in such a way that the reader can close his eyes and almost hear the drum beating in the back of his head.