And how the silence surged softly backward

The earth keeps some vibration going:

The hoarse leaves crawl on hissing ground,

Seeds in a dry pod, tick, tick, tick.

The warning whispers pass

With songs of misery, music of our woes.


My soul, dressed in silence, rises up.

Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn

With only our tongues for our swords

And learn to chaunt a tongue men do not know–

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.


My attempt at a cento. The title is from Walter De La Mare’s “Listeners.”

24 thoughts on “And how the silence surged softly backward”

    1. Thanks for reading. That may be my favorite line of the whole thing–and I was thinking I really need to read more of Kipling’s poetry!


    1. Thank you. I had so much fun strewing my desk with poetry anthologies, being inspired by old favorites and those I’d either missed or undervalued. 🙂 I would definitely do another!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Yay, Jennifer! This is wonderful. The sounds in each line respond to one another beautifully. I think we looked at the same source material — I was digging into my Norton Intro to Poetry, which has completely fallen apart over the years but contains such treasures.

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    1. Thanks, Meg. Yep, I saved all my Nortons. I was fairly baffled by some of my college-self notes. Poor Yeats was pretty scribbled over. 🙂

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  2. Wow, wow, WOW! I love this beautiful creations so much. It’s funny because it sounds so you! I never would have guessed it was a cento for that reason, but also because it flows so beautifully. All those sounds! I envisioned pulling out my old poetry anthologies, too, but then a story I had lurking in my archives for months sort of finished itself. Next week!

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    1. Your supersweet and generous words got me thinking about how much my writing has been influenced, and by whom…it’s possible that any time I sit down to write, there is some Yeats pulsing in my subconscious… 🙂

      I’m looking forward to reading a cento by Silverleaf!

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        1. I’m curious now about everyone’s line-searching technique. I just copied out lots and lots of lines that seemed to loosely go with the prompt, then played with them until I saw a pattern and dumped all the ones that didn’t fit. Trying again today. I might have to go back and find a few happier lines because it’s all pretty dark at the moment.


          1. Ha! I did EXACTLY that, minus linking it to the prompt. I looked up some of my favourite poets, copied out lines from the poems I clicked on and then developed a theme or storyline around what started to emerge. Sometimes I think it makes sense, sometimes I think it sounds disjointed… I wouldn’t worry about dark; dark can be good!

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