Today's poetry stretch takes the form of thievery. Actually, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so let's think about this as an exercise in honoring our favorite lines of poetry. Today's exercise in mental gymnastics takes the form of the cento.
The cento is a poem made entirely of pieces from poems by other authors. Centos can be rhymed or unrhymed, short or long.
(From The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms.)
You can read more about the cento at Poets.org.
Not one to stick with the rules, a few years ago I wrote a cento using titles from my bookshelf.
He waits in the secret garden while hisHere are the books that make up this cento.
love is lost to the housekeeping.
He knows the name of the rose,
and all creatures great and small.
He meditates on beauty,
and walks where angels fear to tread.
He is the constant gardener,
tending the family orchard while
the sun also rises.
He lives in a brave new world,
without pride and prejudice,
by a thread of grace.
He dreams of Gilead,
the wide Sargasso Sea and
going to the lighthouse,
but dreams blow away
on the shadow of the wind.
He views the world through
an imperfect lens, and knows it's all
one big damn puzzler, but
he believes that life is a miracle and
that the Lord God made them all.
- Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
- The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
- All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
- On Beauty by Zadie Smith
- Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
- The Constant Gardener by John le Carre
- The Family Orchard by Nomi Eve
- The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- A Thread of Grace by Maria Doria Russell
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
- Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
- Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
- An Imperfect Lens by Anne Roiphe
- One Damn Big Puzzler by John Harding
- Life is a Miracle by Wendell Berry
- The Lord God Made Them All by James Herriot
You can also read the cento I wrote this month for Draw a Bird Day. It's called Thirteen Ways of Looking at Birds.
So, do you want to play? What kind of poem will you assemble? Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.