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Here’s the prompt!

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that begins with a line from 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.

Megalith still

Mist swirls


the circle

jagged teeth

of stones

pierce damp,

Atlantic air;

grey silent fragments

in a grey silent world –

we touch the past

listen in emptiness:

hear no voices.

I took a long time to do today’s prompt. All the lines of poetry that came to me such as ‘I must go down to the seas again’ had such a strong rhythm they seemed to dictate what came next so I struggled to find a good line prompt that gave me room for imagination. The lines I have picked come from the middle of ‘The Horses’ by Ted Hughes – ‘grey silent fragments in a grey silent world’. Later in the poem he uses the expression ‘megalith still’ which I have taken for my title. I had in mind the standing stones of Callinish, Isle of Lewis.  Not a horse in sight. This started life as a compact, fatter poem but then decided it preferred to be tall and skinny like a standing stone.