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Return of Cento Thursday

December 24, 2009

And happy assorted winter festivals all round. The Generator now also supports ottava rima and heroic verse.

I hereby present this week’s fragments; the two picks of the week are posted separately here.

The city now doth, like a garment, wear
A body of England’s, breathing English air.

With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride,
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen,
Yet never did I breathe its pure serene,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
That we one jot of former love retain.

Far, far removed, cold in the dreary grave,
Severed at last by Time’s all-severing wave
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
While in eternal lines to time thou grow’st.

There must be reasons why the leaves decay,
If we should stumble when musicians play
Into the living sea of waking dreams;
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems
Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage.

In the distant Latin chanting of a train
Great Death has made all his forevermore:
The darkness and the thunder and the rain.

For unremembered lads that not again –
‘Yet many a better one has died before’ –
Dare not indulge in memory’s rapturous pain,
The darkness and the thunder and the rain.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Seamus permalink
    December 25, 2009 12:26 pm

    Merry Christmas!

    That one beginning “There must be reasons why the leaves decay” is particularly brilliant.

    Here are my contributions to this Cento Thursday:

    First, a couple of stanzas from a terza rima poem:

    Little we see in nature that is ours;
    The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!
    Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers,

    And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
    Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine,
    Sole judge of Truth, in endless error hurl’d.

    I’ve cut this one off mid-line; it seems to make more sense that way:

    And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
    And so the time-lag teases me with how
    A place where woman never smiled or wept
    Was shining years ago.

    Desiring this man’s art, or that man’s scope,
    Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes.

    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
    Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
    Sees hardened steeds desert the stony town,
    From forth the fatal loins of these two foes.

    (I’m smirking a bit at “hardened steeds … From forth the fatal loins”.)

    When a new planet swims into his ken,
    A place where woman never smiled or wept,
    Thou art slave to chance, fate, kings and desperate men.

    This last one comes from me stubbornly sitting with the Generator until it yielded me one with something from Don Paterson’s “Two Trees”, which I’d just put in. My parents gave me Paterson’s “Rain” for Christmas, and I am going to be lost in it to the neglect of all other poetry for some time, I think.

    One morning, Don Miguel got out of bed
    In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
    Out of the window perilously spread
    Which deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne,

    When lovely woman stoops to folly and
    Enacted on this same divan or bed;
    Also out of the picture-book; whose hand,
    Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
    Show that its sculptor well those passions read,
    And many goodly states and kingdoms seen.
    If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head,
    Which deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne.

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