The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Literature from Mexico City

John Hegley: 2 Poems Published

Poem by John Hegley (UK)

Published in The Ofi Press issue 50 


A Villanelle for Mademoiselle


The baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau woos the younger Marie-Louise Mangot (with whom he will have four children and be with, for the rest of his days). At the time wooing, he is at odds with The Encyclopedistes: Diderot, and Rousseau, more so.


Mademoiselle, this villanelle's for you.

You've set my Eighteenth Century alight.

This Love is inconvenient, but true.


The Encyclopedistes haven't got a clue;

You don't appear in anything they write.

Mademoiselle, this villanelle's for you.


This composer's ill-composed, when next to you;

My chest as though my vest is very tight.

This Love is inconvenient, but true.


A cliché, but my head is all askew.

My greatest fear, you'll disappear from sight.

Mademoiselle, this villanelle's for you.


To have you wed to me would be a coup

And I believe this revolution's right.

This Love is inconvenient, but true.


You're sweeter than the pastries that I chew.

I'm twice your age, but closer though in height.

Mademoiselle, this villanelle's for you,

This Love is inconvenient, but true. 



Last night, at the hotel, it was the fancy dress occasion, culminating in what they call a Novelty Disco. I had discussed with my companion what we were going to dress up as and when I said I was going as Jean Philipe Rameau, I thought she might say “Jean Philipe Rameau, who's that?” but she said “OK  you go as Rameau and I’ll go as Elizabeth De la Guerre.” And I said, “Elizabeth De la Guerre, who's that?” and she explained that this woman was a great composer and a contemporary of Rameau. 

Anyway, when we were at the Novelty Disco, I said to the DJ “Have you got any Jean Philipe Rameau?” And he said “Jean Philipe Rameau, who's that?” So, I explained that he was a french baroque composer that I’d come dressed as and the DJ said “Sorry, I don't have any of his stuff, but I do have some Elizabeth De la Guerre.”


About the Poet

Performance poet John Hegley was born in 1953 in Newington Green, Islington.

He grew up in Luton and was educated at Bradford University, where he studied Literature and Sociology. He has worked as a bus conductor in Bristol, and in children's theatre in London.

His collections include Glad to Wear Glasses (1990), Can I Come Down Now Dad (1991) and Dog (2000). He has published a volume of verse for children, My Dog is a Carrot (2002). In 2008 he coedited an anthology of poetry for young people, The Ropes: Poems To Hold On To, with Sophie Hannah. His most recent collections are Peace, Love and Potatoes (2012), New & Selected Potatoes (2013) and I am a Poetato (2013). 

John Hegley has also released his own CD of songs and poetry, 'Saint and Blurry', and collaborated with Robyn Hitchcock as John Hegley and The Popticians.

In 2000 he received an honorary Arts Doctorate from Luton University, where he has also let creative writing classes. Hegley launched "Warning: May Contain Nuts", a project using comedy to increase awareness of mental illness. He performed these shows in 2010 with other performers, including comic Mackenzie Taylor, talking about mental illness.


For more information about The Ledbury Festival for which these poems were produced:   

For more information about the Hwaet!  anthology where these poems can also be found:

Image: Original artwork by the poet.