London’s Burning

A Patchwork poem.- originally posted in 2008

The cento (or collage poem) is a poetic form made up of lines from poems by other poets.

Lines (with minor tweaks) by the following: John Gay, John Dryden, James & Horatio Smith, Crosbie Garstin, Robert Graves, Edwin Muir, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Siegfried Sassoon, Bernard Spencer, Oliver Goldsmith, David H. Lawrence, Siegfried Sassoon, Edmund Blunden, Dylan Thomas.

At first a glowing red enwrapped the skies,
at length the crackling noise and dreadful blaze
– starred, striped and spotted, yellow, red and blue –
pushed out streaming tentacles, took hold:
the most odd, indescribable thing of all.
We listened to our breathing and were afraid.
Burn madly, Fire! o’er earth in ravage run.
Shop after shop, with symbols, blazoned names.
Scared people hurried, storming the doors in crowds
screaming like frightened animals, clashing metal
and quite forgot their vices in their woe:
the rain won’t come, the rain refuses to come!
The officials seemed to waken with a shout
and promptly took the necessary action
under the night forever falling.

© Luigi Pagano 

© ionicus 2023
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critique and comments welcome.
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Goodness Luigi! This is a masterclass in the genre. Without knowing the sources one would have expected the poem to have been an homogenous work – if that is the correct expression. It would indeed be a challenge to better this.


For a good reason; and I would like to try my hand on one; it shall be put in my things to do folder – already bursting I’m afraid!


Luigi, this (and Typhoon) is a magnificent piece of work. Must have taken an age to do. It shows great skill and knowledge of poets. However I can’t say this is a form of poetry I would want to do. (even if I could 🙂 )

Last edited 1 year ago by Guaj

And you have done it very successfully, Luigi. A skill and commitment that is rare indeed.

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