Sunday, October 03, 2004

Patchwork [1]

 As seen at OpenBrackets

Today’s game is called centon, taken from the Latin word cento meaning (roughly) patchwork. It’s an ancient game that consists of creating a piece of poetry or prose made up of lines from other works.

The only rule – if you’re willing to take some dead Latin poet’s word – is that you cannot use two consecutive lines from the texts you’re plagiarising (uh, sorry, to which you’re paying homage).

So, given the cornucopia of current events, you could either cobble together a string of headlines, and tickle Dadaists (and alarmists) with something like this:

Mel Gibson gets court order against praying fan
Bomber kills 25 worshippers in Pakistan
Restless St. Helens may not be done
Judge questions plans for Microsoft sanction
Schwarzenegger warns against glamorizing inmates
Greek archaeologists discover 2,500 year old pomegranates.

Or you can string together lines from novels or from celebrated and not so verse, to produce a little ditty like this:

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
I said: my heart, now let us sing a song for a fair lady on her wedding-day:
I am in love with high far-seeing places
I love my hour of wind and light
Not that I love thy children, whose dull eyes see nothing save their own unlovely woe
You love us when we’re heroes, home on leave, or wounded in a mentionable place
Love not, love not! ye hapless sons of clay!

With a critical eye you scann’d, then set it down, and said:

Love is the blossom where there blows every thing that lives or grows
Love has earth to which she clings
Oh love is fair, and love is rare; my dear one she said
Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds
Love suffereth all things
Love, love me only, love me for ever
I Love him, I love him, ran the patter of her lips

I said – for Love was laggard, O, Love was slow to come
Love is a sickness full of woes
Love is a breach in the walls, a broken gate,
Love is my sin, and thy dear virtue.

But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack from my first entrance in, drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning:
Love, flooding all the creeks of my dry soul
How could I love you more?
Love is enough.

I said, then, dearest, since ‘tis so
Why do you iron the night away?
Give me more love, or more disdain.

Love has gone and left me and the days are all alike.

And you need not suffer the humiliation of having produced a pun.

.. read more


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