Writings and Witterings



As you know, I’m still catching up with the napowrimo challenge that I’ve been so tardy with over the past couple of weeks;  there’s probably not the remotest chance of catching up completely, but an attempt will be made!

Our challenge from napowrimo 25 April, was to write a cento [from the latin word for patchwork], a poem made up entirely of lines from other poems.  It’s odd, very odd to be snipping words out of the works of others … here’s what I’ve come up with in very little time – wonder if you can identify the poet before peeking at the source at the base of the page 🙂


But look, the dawn in russet mantle clad
Yawns. And not much happens with
Darkness outside. Inside, a radio’s prayer;
The shadows mediated by the slats of the venetian blind.

If you still are mending in the failing light
His light he says is being blocked. It’s dark
The sky, night-streaked and opaque,
Moonbeams sadly, will not survive in a jar

Like faded paper flowers.
The church doors close and open underground
Would crush a thousand flowers.
Perfection is terrible, it cannot have children.

Polly Robinson © 2012

Set of blinds in an abandoned house on Wapping...

With thanks to the sources, in order of appearance: William Shakespeare, Alexander Hutchinson, Carol Ann Duffy, John Stammers, Sarah Maguire, Jamie McKendrick, Anne Rouse, Roger McGough, Seamus Heaney, Robin Robertson, Kathleen Jamie, Sylvia Plath

Mending the Net


15 thoughts on “Cento

  1. Well, then. . .
    I have to be partial to the last line.
    ! ! !


  2. btw: I loved the way you fit these together. I have never succeeded at a cento. Brava!


  3. Very tricky indeed – a bravura performance, well done!


  4. how is the portioning made? does the first line owns by one author, then the next line by the other author? its my first time to see a cento so it made me curious as how it was done:) thanks!


    • You’ve got it, jymiely, you take one line from a poem, then the next line by another poet, or single lines from different poems of the same poet, and pull a new poem together.

      It’s a great opportunity to use the words of your favourite poets or those who inspire you to create something brand new, but does feel odd, very, very odd, to be using the actual lines of others in this way [or at least, it did to me!]


      • yes i also thought about that..as i write poems, i was very careful not to rewrite lines from other authors..Shakespeare’s been bugging me this past few days so i think doing a cento will make him silent 🙂


  5. heh-heh, an excellent way of silencing Shakespeare, jymiely! What fun 🙂 I shall look forward to your Shakespearian centro. Something along the lines of: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? / A horse, a horse! My kingdom …’ [heh-heh] *mischief*


  6. Is this a masterpiece ! WONDERFUL ! I’m speechless ! Sincerely Deborah


  7. Aw shucks, Deborah *blushes*
    But, tell me, how can you be ‘speechless’? You ‘have a voice’ [heh-heh]
    Thank you for your lovely comment and please pardon the poor joke ☺


  8. Very cool. I kind of wish I’d gotten in on NaPoWriMo. Maybe I’ll do my own one in May or something, haha.


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