Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday Poetry Stretch - Cento

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 here. I also like this article about found poetry.

I took about an hour this morning and read through some of my favorite poems and my journal of favorite lines. Here's my first attempt at a cento. It is, as yet, untitled.
Like as the waves make toward the pebbled shore
   the wrinkled sea beneath him crawls
   over earth and ocean, with gentle motion
Sheets of rain swish through on the wind
   the morning comes to consciousness
   in other lands where other songs be sung
Where had I heard this wind before?

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 60; Alfred Tennyson, The Eagle;
Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Cloud; Carl Sandburg, Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind; T.S. Eliot, Preludes; E. E. Cummings, This is the Garden; and Robert Frost, Bereft.
So, do you want to play? What kind of poem will you assemble? Post your creation on your blog and then leave a link in the comments. Once we have some poems, I'll link them all here. Don't forget to let us know what poets and poems your lines came from.


  1. Uh-oh! This sounds like more than ten minutes. It'll havta wait a little. I like the challenge, though!

    I'll get back to you after a couple of chores are done.

  2. Now, that's just NEAT and seems like something I can do. I'm so blog-swamped right now, but I'm going to think on this. Thanks!

    Jules, 7-Imp

  3. Such as it is, is. I hope you are a little easier on us next week!

  4. Very nice! I'll have to fiddle with this one.