Index of First Lines

Martin A. Bartels is a published poet, author, and artist striving to make a living at all of the above. He has worked as a successful journalist, a syndicated travel writer, and a marketing & communications professional for Fortune 100 companies and nonprofits. He is currently president & CEO of the humanitarian nonprofit, Seed Programs International, an organization that provides quality vegetable seeds to impoverished and undernourished people around the world.

Ah! What pleasant visions haunt me,
And peace that lay so heavy and dark:
A noiseless, patient spider,
A ruddy drop of manly blood.

Desolate and lone,
Dust always blowing about the town,
For this present, hard,
Give me the splendid silent sun.

I have been one acquainted with the Night,
I heard the trailing garments of the Night.
I, like a church, I, like a cowl–
I’ll tell you how the sun rose.

Low and mournful be the strain:
Most men know love but as a part of life,
Not in the solitude
Of all the rides since the birth of time.

Out of me, unworthy and unknown,
Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,
Out through the fields and the woods,
Out walking in the frozen swamp.

The groves were God’s first temples,
The little toy dog is covered with dust.
The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat,
The railroad track is miles away.

There by the window in the old house
There is a Reaper whose name is Death,
The skies they were ashen and sober,
The sky is low, the clouds are mean.

When breezes are soft and skies are fair,
When I see birches bend to left and right,
When I sit down with thee at last alone,
You to the left and I to the right.

Index of First Lines is taken from the index of the same name, published in “Literature and Life, Book Three” by Edwin Greenlaw and Dudley Miles, 1929 (Scott, Foresman and Company).  The poems cited include: “The Secret of the Sea” (H.W. Longfellow); from “Tristram,” (E.A. Robinson); “A Noiseless, Patient Spider” (W. Whitman); from “Friendship” (R.W. Emerson); “Lost” (Carl Sandburg); “A Peck of Gold,” (Robert Frost); “Woodnotes I,” (R.W. Emerson); “Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun,” (W. Whitman); “Acquainted With the Night” (R. Frost); “Hymn to the Night” (H.W. Longfellow); “The Problem” (R.W. Emerson); “A Day,” Emily Dickinson; “Voluntaries,” (R.W. Emerson); “Most Men Know Love,” (Henry Timrod); “Hymn of the City,” (William Cullen Bryant); “Skipper Ireson’s Ride,” (John Greenleaf Whittier); “Anne Rutledge” from Spoon River Anthology, (Edgar Lee Masters); “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” (Walt Whitman); “Reluctance,” (Robert Frost); “The Wood-Pile,” (Robert Frost); “A Forest Hymn,” (William Cullen Bryant); “Little Boy Blue,” (Eugene Field); “The Bivouac of the Dead” (Theodore O’Hara); “Travel,” (Edna St. Vincent Millay); “William H. Herndon” from Spoon River Anthology, (Edgar Lee Masters); “The Reaper and the Flowers,” (H.W. Longfellow); “Ulalume,” (Edgar Allen Poe); “The Sky Is Low,” (Emily Dickinson); “Green River,” (William Cullen Bryant); “Birches,” (Robert Frost); “After Business Hours,” (Richard Hovey); “At the Crossroads,” (Richard Hovey).





  • November 26, 2012

    Phillip A. Ellis

    I’ve yet to try my hand at a cento, and have rarely come across them. The only one that i distinctly remember is by the Australian poet, Michael Sharkey, who constructed his out of the works of other Australian poets.

    May I ask, what tips would you give about working on one?

  • September 24, 2014


    Se han oído noticias sensacionalistasen las que pequeños han sido
    atacados por perros.

  • April 8, 2015


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