May 09, 2011


Prompt from We Write Poems: write a cento poem
"Cento" carries the idea of a "patchwork" ... it is created by choosing poem lines from some other poet's work (from one or more poems), rearranging those lines with each other (changing only punctuation, if needed), and creating a new poem with only that selected content. It allows for a closer look at the writing style of another poet and is a great way to find inspiration.
The following cento is taken from poems by Robert Frost.

Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
straight up and down of tall slim trees,
my head sways to my shoulder,
my feet tug at the floor.

These dark days of autumn rain,
the bare, the withered tree,
the bark warping off it,
simple worsted gray
silver now, with clinging mist,
too much alike to mark or name a place by,
hide in the world,
and alter with age.

But a leaf that lingered brown
in the wood-world’s torn despair
comes softly rattling down
for a friendly visit.

[The Sound of the Trees; The Wood-Pile; My November Guest; The Lockless Door; A Late Walk; A Line-Storm Song; A Time to Talk]


  1. Love the last stanza in particular. You have even managed to select lines that don't sound Frost-ian. Nice work. I chose Frost too, but wasn't able to make my cento sound quite so other.

  2. I love the imagery you captured and how well it flows. I agree with Margo - it doesn't sound like Frost to me (and I mean that as a compliment although I am a huge Frost fan). You took his lines and made them yours.

  3. I am a huge Robert Frost fan, as well. i agree the lines you tied together crafted a wonderful poem

  4. Love Frost also, and this sounds like the dogwood trees in winter, as he lived near my uncle in New Canaan, CT in his later years.

    A lovely take on the cento, one that would stand on its own if Frost himself had done a cento using his own work. Thank you! Amy Barlow Liberatore
    Mine is from a single Sandburg work. Will go back later and cycle through his Chicago poems for another:

  5. Love the beginning stanza. Neat.

  6. Also a Frost fan, and you made this piece fresh and new. I love trees so felt comfortable and at home here. Those last few lines are wonderful,


  7. Wow, thank you all. Your words of praise amaze me! However, I did not write the lines, only rearranged them... Frost himself was the master of these words.

  8. I love the pairing of self and tree. It gives the being anchor against all that comes against it. Another Frost cento, and I was happy to have shared it. Thank you for it.

  9. A lovely poem; if I didn't already know it was cento, I would never have guessed. I like the last stanza and "my feet tug at the floor".


  10. This piece falls together into a patchwork forest. It's gorgeous.

  11. This is absolutely gorgeous...and a great stitching together of Frost's lines. What strikes me the most is the coherency, of both the way the lines are placed together and the overall message which emerges from your particular choice of lines. Very well done. :)


  12. Well, I'll be bookend to Margo's comment. The first stanza especially appealed to me, the transition from trees to body, swaying with the wind. Very gracefully done, and thanks for playing with us on this prompt.