"Do not go gentle into that good night" is a villanelle: a fixed form that originated with the French courtly poets of the Middle Ages. What are its rules?

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The villanelle has a quite rigid structure of which the following are the rules:

Firstly, the poem should consist of nineteen lines. This is made up of five stanzas of which each is a tercet (three lines). The final stanza is a quatrain (four lines). Furthermore, the poem's structure comprises two repeating rhymes and two refrains.

The first line of stanza one also functions as the last line of both the second and the fourth stanzas. The third line of the first stanza is used as the last line of stanzas three and five. The poem follows an aba rhyme-scheme.

The above conventions are illustrated below:

Do not go gentle into that good night,                      (refrain 1)      
Old age...

(The entire section contains 344 words.)

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