So in honor of World Poetry Day, and as a way to bring this blog back to life, I’ve decided to post an older poem that I adore. I wrote this cento back on 27 April 2011, based on the poems in Sylvia Plath’s Ariel. Please look below the poem for more information on both the cento format and my thoughts behind the creation of this particular poem.
“Sea in Winter”
A far sea moves in my year.
shattering its grey one
and the sea
blinding me with its lights.
The dark fruits revolve and fall.
We make new stock from the salt.
Nun-hearted and blind to the world,
and like the cat I have nine times to die.
My body is a pebble to them.
The secret is stamped on you,
faint, undulant watermark.
Seven hours knocked out of my right mind,
pulp of your heart.
Is it the sea you hear in me,
Through the black amnesias of heaven,
there is the sunlight,
playing its blades
black sweet blood mouthfuls —
The dew makes a star
while the child smiles into thin air.
Even in your Zen heaven we shan’t meet.
The blood that runs is dark fruit.
There’s always a bloody baby in the air.
A gift, a love gift
utterly unasked for,
silver beast between two dark canyons.
The blood blooms clean —
in you, ruby.
This is the sea then, this great abeyance.
Over your body the clouds go,
the silver leash of the will,
curve of water upleaping.
A concatenation of rainbows.
The moon is my mother,
she is not sweet like Mary,
but it shimmers, it does not stop,
and I think it wants me —
The barbarous holly with its viridian scallops
they rise on either side of him like stars.
If the moon smiled, she would resemble you,
with my gypsy ancestress and my weird luck,
trawling your dark as owls do.
All by myself I am a huge camellia.
I am the magician’s girl who does not flinch.
I am no source of honey
to scour the creamy crests,
as the moon, for its ivory powders, scours the sea.
Winter is for women.
“Cento or found poetry is created by using extant text from other sources. It can be full verses or lines of poetry, snippets of dialogue, what have you. These borrowed bits and pieces can be combined with the poet’s own words, creating a kind of patchwork, or the poet will solely use the source material without adding their own words. In either case, punctuation, capitalization, and line placement can be changed around within the poem.
For this poem, I chose to take a single line from each of the forty poems listed in the original manuscript of Ariel by Sylvia Plath. The lines are listed here in this poem in the exact order of the poems as Plath wanted for her manuscript. Each line chosen was one that stood out for me as something I wanted to use. In many cases, there were poems that had multiple options that appealed to me, but the choice wasn’t made until I sat down tonight to actually create this poem. I am quite sure that I could go back and reread the poems at another time, and I would be pulling completely different lines to create a wholly different poem.
Plath’s work has been a part of my life since I was about 13yo or so. In fact, Ariel [the US version] was the first thing of hers that I read back then. I will very easily admit that a lot of my poetic influence came from Sylvia Plath’s work.”