From the Latin word for “patchwork,” the cento (or collage poem) is a poetic form made up of lines from poems by other poets. Though poets often borrow lines from other writers and mix them in with their own, a true cento is composed entirely of lines from other sources. Early examples can be found in the work of Homer and Virgil. Modern centos are often witty, creating irony or humor from the juxtaposition of images and ideas.

Marie Elena’s Patchwork:


I stroll along serenely,
And it pushes me into certain corners –
A place where the sidewalk ends,
Lost as a light is lost at night.

Never mind silent fields,
Knowing how way leads on to way,
Into a daybreak which is wondrously clear
Though it be darkness there,

Long walks at night –
That’s what’s good for the soul.


Taken from the works of Bukowski, Silverstein, Frost, Neruda, Teasdale, Angelou, Dickenson


Walt’s Cento:


Silence will fall like dews on white silence below,
devils of red Comanches are hot on the track.
Gold threads whistling through my mother’s hand.
The yellow leaves begin to fade.
The nuts are getting brown,
soon to let us walk in the white snow.
Leave no black plume as a token; black is the clear glass
and the sharp black shadow of a seated man
with lean and yellow fingers, points me out.
She strikes a happy tear away and broke the crimson seal.
Brown waves of fog toss up to me,
and all those stars both silvery and golden shall shine me out again.
“How do you like your blue-eyed boy?”
“With gold seals hanging from his watch
and a blue coat with silver buttons”.


~ Culled from the poems of Joaquin Miller, Edna St. Vincent Millay, John Davidson, Edgar Allen Poe, William Rose Benét, Elinor Wylie, Emily Dickinson, Oscar Wilde, T.S. Eliot, Steven Vincent Benét, e.e. cummings, Amy Lowell, Harold Munro and Walt Whitman.