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Cento Thursday and ‘Rain’

January 22, 2010

Once again a day late and a dollar short (what can I say, I’ve been busy.) The generator has had a selection of George Meredith, Christina Rossetti and W.B. Yeats added to it, and is churning out fragments by the cartload.

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
On a starred night Prince Lucifer uprose . . .

One day I will, I swear, compose a cento-fied epic by stitching together all these little bits, and it will be AWESOME.

He hangs between; in doubt, to act or rest;
Nothing to eat, and nowhere to sit down;
Featured like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
Not wan with waiting, nor with sorrow dim
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
And she with true kind eyes looks back at him.

I like the series of oppositions in this one.

If I should die, think only this of me:
That thus so cleanly I myself can free,
Stream from the hawthorn on the wind away
Stone-still, and the long darkness flowed away.

If here to-day the cloud of thunder lours
I shall but love thee better after death;
The flesh will grieve on other bones than ours.

This one’s just weird, although I guess it could be attractive depending on which personification of Death you happen to favour:

Death be not proud, though some have called thee,
Nor ever chaste, save that you ravish me
When roses to the moonlight burst apart,
And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart.

And this week’s full poem, a villanelle with its refrain lines provided by Robert Frost and war poet Charles Sorley. This one is dreadfully sad, and is titled, for obvious reasons, ‘Rain’; the repetition of the word fits very well with the circular feel of the villanelle form, and gives a melancholy image of the same things happening again and again.

Rain

I have walked out in rain – and back in rain;
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
The darkness and the thunder and the rain.

That we one jot of former love retain,
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
I have walked out in rain – and back in rain.

In the distant Latin chanting of a train
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow:
The darkness and the thunder and the rain.

How could I seek the empty world again?
Suppose the lions all get up and go?
I have walked out in rain – and back in rain;

And when we meet at any time again,
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
The darkness and the thunder and the rain,

And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
I have walked out in rain – and back in rain;
The darkness and the thunder and the rain.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Seamus permalink
    January 23, 2010 5:51 pm

    That villanelle is excellent. These lines in particular seem made for each other:

    And when we meet at any time again,
    Will Time say nothing but I told you so?

    I was paradoxically surprised at the lyrical beauty produced by the joining of the refrain lines at the end. Though I knew it was coming, I was caught off guard by the power of

    I have walked out in rain – and back in rain;
    The darkness and the thunder and the rain.

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