Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Monday Poetry Stretch: Cento

Tricia at the Miss Rumphius Effect threw a blazing strike. She calls it a Cento. The requirement for the "original" poem this week is that you plagiarize, I mean borrow, bits from many poets to produce a new poem.

I started by arbitrarily limiting myself by hunting poems that include references to owls -- I recently read the new Harry Potter book and saw the new Harry Potter movie. The owls soon gave the poem a very cold and gloomy air. Owls weren't enough so I began to look through a few of my favorite poets, especially Georgia poets, for more applicable lines.

I have spent way too much time trying to pull something real from myself through the words of others. I have not succeeded. There are a few disjointed ideas here, but it's not real yet.

Tricia, could we have something a bit easier next week? :-)

I took the following liberties:
  • I changed tense where necessary
  • I changed or added punctuation at will
  • I broke the lines to suit myself
  • I used more than one line from some poems but never twice in the same stanza.
I may play with it a bit more someday, but here it is, half-cooked.

A Breath of Wind

1 A wind
with a wolf's head --
2 From the north?
from the east?
from the south ?
and the west?
3 Over snow by winter sown,
4 Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired am I,
5 Rises to drown out the sky.

6 When the winter comes,
7 and milk comes
home in pail,
8 Over the white,
the frozen ground
9 The Owl,that calls upon the Night,
10 Is the last to hold the light.

11 Owl's cry,
a most melancholy cry,
12 glides
into darkness
clear as glass,
13 In the frosty nights
of winter,
14 The white owl in the belfry sits,
15 And nods, and seems to think by fits.

16 Merry milkmaids
click the latch,
17 and feel the walls
for a light switch...
18 Their time is short,
a life is just a day...
19 First-Chill-then Stupor-then the letting go --

20 The wind will cease to blow.
- Terrell Shaw

Here are the source poems:
1 Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ballad of the Harp Weaver
2 Sidney Lanier, Owl Against Robin
3 JRR Tolkein, The Road Goes Ever On
4 Edward Thomas, The Owl
5 Alfred Corn, Promised Land Valley, June '73

6 Millay, Ballad of the Harp Weaver
7 William Shakespeare, Love’s Labor’s Lost
8 Byron Herbert Reece, Boy and Deer
9 William Blake, Augeries of Innocence
10 Harry Behn, Trees

11 Thomas, The Owl
12 Conrad Aiken, Music
13 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hiawatha’s Childhood
14 Tennyson, The Owl
15 John Gay, The Owl and the Farmer

16 Tennyson, The Owl
17 Billy Collins, Introduction to Poetry
18 Malvina Reynolds, From Way Up Here
19 Emily Dickenson, After great pain a formal feeling comes--
20 Tennyson, All Things Will Die

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