NaPoWriMo 2016 Day 25 Stone Sonnet FPR Inchworm




Today’s prompt is the one from

And now for our (optional) prompt! Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that begins with a line from a another poem (not necessarily the first one), but then goes elsewhere with it. This will work best if you just start with a line of poetry you remember, but without looking up the whole original poem. (Or, find a poem that you haven’t read before and then use a line that interests you). The idea is for the original to furnish a sort of backdrop for your work, but without influencing you so much that you feel stuck just rewriting the original!. For example, you could begin, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day,” or “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,” or “I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster,” or “they persevere in swimming where they like.” Really, any poem will do to provide your starter line – just so long as it gives you the scope to explore. Happy writing!

My first line is taken from the poem Rock Me, Mercy, which is from Yusef Komunyakaa’s collection, The Emperor of Water Clocks, his new collection that I am currently reading.

stones pic 2 for blogStone Sonnet

The river stones are listening
to gossiping willows swaying low
to whisper in the river’s ear.
The river doesn’t hear them,
its own chatter over the stones
drowns the softer sound of rustled leaf.



The river stones hear it all, the whispers,  IMG_0219
the sharp warning calls as crows
announce the coming of each
brush wolf and every hungry cat.
Even the shotgun blast,
the single croak, the death rattle.



The stones, stoic, voices caught fast in granite hearts—
forever silent, forever listening.



Carol A. Stephen
April 25, 2016


But I did try the FPR Impromptu 25 prompt to do a homophonic translation. This prompt came from Nancy Chen Long.  I’ve done this exercise before and liked this result. This time, I think too late in the day, as I could not quite find something that worked well. But… see for yourself!   To read the orginal poem in both Corsican and English, by Patrizia Gattaceca  Poems in Corsican

The poem is called Inchjostru translated as Ink. I have not included it here. My poem attempt appears below the prompt description.


from Found Poetry Review: This prompt is the homophonic-interpretation one that I mentioned in my introduction. It involves reading a poem in another language that you do not speak. The language of the poem you select must be one in which you don’t know what’s being said, so that your imagination has greater room to play. If you know what is being said, then that knowledge might constrict your imagination too much.

Find a poem in its original language. You can use Google for this. For example, entering the phrase “poems in french” into Google brings up the two links below, each of which show poems in their original French. (One of them also shows poems in Vietnamese as well). However, both links also show a translation into English—don’t read the translations!

If this is your first homophonic interpretation, then a selecting a shorter poem is probably better.

Sound out the poem and “translate” it based on what you hear. A couple of methods you can use to sound out the poem are:

To sound out the poem aloud by yourself. This might be doable if the alphabet being used is something you can sort-of recognize.

And/or use Google Translate ( ): Paste in a line or phrase or word of the poem in its original language. Select the language to be translated if Google doesn’t recognize it. Once the language has been detected, a little speaker icon should appear below the text you pasted in. Click the speaker icon and Google voice will read what you entered back to you.

Of course, your translation won’t be exact—getting words anywhere near the ballpark of what you think you hear is good.



Chenille sur une branche

Chenille sur une branche (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The inchworm gyrates in its blood,
strange visitor inside
the goats you dream. Pursue
water, your earthly body,
dead from the sea.
Salt revives you.

The Old Mother
at first night
chanting in tongues,
offers forth a pear
to release you from the worm’s spell.

Its silence means farewell;
you inhale the evening air.

The inchworm departs
chanting in tongues.


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