"he felt the rhythmic movement of a villanelle pass through them."

A villanelle is a complex poetic form with only two rhyming sounds and two refrains (repeated lines). It consists of nineteen lines broken into six stanzas: five of three lines and one, at the end, of four. The first and third lines of the first stanza form the refrains which reappear, alternately, as the last lines of the middle stanzas, and as the penultimate and ultimate lines of the last stanza. The rest of the lines must rhyme with the words at the end of the first and second lines. Villanelles are therefore extremely difficult to write successfully, especially in the English language.

An example of a successful villanelle is Dylan Thomas's Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night:

 

Do not go gentle into that good night, (Refrain 1; rhyme A)

Old age should burn and rage at close of day; (Rhyme B)

Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (Refrain 2; rhyme A)

 

Though wise men at their end know dark is right, (A)

Because their words had forked no lightning they (B)

Do not go gentle into that good night. (1)

 

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright  (A)

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, (B)

Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (2)

 

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, (A)

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, (B)

Do not go gentle into that good night. (1)

 

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight (A)

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, (B)

Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (2)

 

And you, my father, there on the sad height, (A)

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. (B)

Do not go gentle into that good night. (1)

Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (2)