Saturday, December 3, 2016

Frost at Midnight / Samuel Taylor Coleridge


Frost at Midnight

The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet's cry
Came loud — and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
'Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.

                      But O! how oft,
How oft, at school, with most believing mind,
Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars,
To watch that fluttering stranger ! and as oft
With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt
Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower,
Whose bells, the poor man's only music, rang
From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day,
So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me
With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear
Most like articulate sounds of things to come!
So gazed I, till the soothing things, I dreamt,
Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams!
And so I brooded all the following morn,
Awed by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye
Fixed with mock study on my swimming book:
Save if the door half opened, and I snatched
A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up,
For still I hoped to see the stranger's face,
Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved,
My play-mate when we both were clothed alike!

         Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,
Fill up the intersperséd vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought!
My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes! For I was reared
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.

         Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the night-thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

~~
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
from Fears in Solitude, 1798

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Penny's Top 20 / November 2016


Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in November 2016:

  1.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
  2.  Evil / Le Mal, Arthur Rimbaud
  3.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  4.  A Book of Dreams, II.4, George MacDonald
  5.  Prayer of the Year, Ethelwyn Wetherald
  6.  Bombardment, Richard Aldington
  7.  November, Robert Frost
  8.  November, Alexander Louis Fraser

  9.  Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity, John Keble

10.  The Drum, John Scott of Amwell

11.  Autumn, Florence Earle Coates
12.  United Dames of America, Wallace Stevens

13.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance  
14.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
15.  
Long May You Live, George J. Dance
16.  Hallowe'en in a Suburb, H.P. Lovecraft
17.  The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens
18.  Autumn, T.E. Hulme
19.  Puella Parvula, Wallace Stevens
20.  At Delos, Duncan Campbell Scott

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, November 27, 2016

November / Alexander Louis Fraser


November

Each sapless leaf that lingers here
    Where bare woods mourn
Shall soon upon Wind’s silvery bier
    Be gravewards borne.

The bees have left our honey-bowers,   
    The birds are fled;
And ’neath the blight of frost our flowers
    Have fallen — dead!

Yon meadow now, where grass grew green,
    No grazing yields:     
No bells are heard, no flocks are seen
    In far, fenced fields.

Where children played till all the ground
    Was wet with dew,
Autumn, to-day, with threatening sound   
    Snow trumpets blew.

Fear not November’s challenge bold —
    We’ve books and friends;
And hearths that never can grow cold:
    These make amends!

~~
Alexander Louis Fraser (1870-1954)
from the Oxford Book of Canadian Verse, 1913

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada and the United States]

Alexander Louis Fraser biography

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Autumn / Florence Earle Coates


Autumn

In her arms unconscious lying,
Cytherea's love is dying.
On the hill and in the valley,
Through the grove and sun-lit alley,
Drooping flower and fading leaf
     Share her grief.
But in realms of gloom and night
Proserpine enwreathes her hair,
And a gleam of tender light
Seems to pierce the darkness there:
"Ah!" she sighs, "I long have waited
With the calm of hopeless pain,
But to me, the sorrow-fated,
Comes the lost one back again!
Lovely things that seem to die
Hither now will quickly hie,
And to-morrow, in the gloom
Of this sad and sunless tomb,
Butterflies will lightly hover,
As o'er meadows fair;" she saith,
"For Adonis brings the clover
     With his breath!"

~~
Florence Earle Coates (1850-1927)
From Mine and Thine, 1904

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]

Florence Earle Coates biography

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity / John Keble


Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity

Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things onto Himself.  Philippians iii. 21.

Red o’er the forest peers the setting sun,
   The line of yellow light dies fast away
That crowned the eastern copse: and chill and dun
   Falls on the moor the brief November day.

Now the tired hunter winds a parting note,
   And Echo bids good-night from every glade;
Yet wait awhile, and see the calm leaves float
   Each to his rest beneath their parent shade.

How like decaying life they seem to glide!
   And yet no second spring have they in store,
But where they fall, forgotten to abide
   Is all their portion, and they ask no more.

Soon o’er their heads blithe April airs shall sing,
   A thousand wild-flowers round them shall unfold,
The green buds glisten in the dews of Spring,
   And all be vernal rapture as of old.

Unconscious they in waste oblivion lie,
   In all the world of busy life around
No thought of them; in all the bounteous sky,
   No drop, for them, of kindly influence found.

Man’s portion is to die and rise again —
   Yet he complains, while these unmurmuring part
With their sweet lives, as pure from sin and stain,
   As his when Eden held his virgin heart.

And haply half unblamed his murmuring voice
   Might sound in Heaven, were all his second life
Only the first renewed — the heathen’s choice,
   A round of listless joy and weary strife.

For dreary were this earth, if earth were all,
   Tho’ brightened oft by dear Affection’s kiss;—
Who for the spangles wears the funeral pall?
   But catch a gleam beyond it, and ’tis bliss.

Heavy and dull this frame of limbs and heart,
   Whether slow creeping on cold earth, or borne
On lofty steed, or loftier prow, we dart
   O’er wave or field: yet breezes laugh to scorn

Our puny speed, and birds, and clouds in heaven,
   And fish, living shafts that pierce the main,
And stars that shoot through freezing air at even —
   Who but would follow, might he break his chain?

And thou shalt break it soon; the grovelling worm
   Shall find his wings, and soar as fast and free
As his transfigured Lord with lightning form
   And snowy vest — such grace He won for thee,

When from the grave He sprang at dawn of morn,
   And led through boundless air thy conquering road,
Leaving a glorious track, where saints, new-born,
   Might fearless follow to their blest abode.

But first, by many a stern and fiery blast
   The world’s rude furnace must thy blood refine,
And many a gale of keenest woe be passed,
   Till every pulse beat true to airs divine,

Till every limb obey the mounting soul,
   The mounting soul, the call by Jesus given.
He who the stormy heart can so control,
   The laggard body soon will waft to Heaven.

~~
John Keble (1792-1866)
from The Christian Year, 1827

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Keble biography

Saturday, November 19, 2016

November / Robert Frost


November

We saw leaves go to glory,
Then almost migratory
Go part way down the lane,
And then to end the story
Get beaten down and pasted
In one wild day of rain.
We heard ‘ ‘Tis over’ roaring.
A year of leaves was wasted.
Oh, we make a boast of storing,
Of saving and of keeping,
But only by ignoring
The waste of moments sleeping,
The waste of pleasure weeping,
By denying and ignoring
The waste of nations warring.

~~
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
from A Witness Tree, 1942

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Robert Frost biography

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Drum / John Scott of Amwell


Ode XIII

I hate that drum’s discordant sound,
Parading round, and round, and round:
To thoughtless youth it pleasure yields,
And lures from cities and from fields,
To sell their liberty for charms
Of tawdry lace, and glittering arms;
And when Ambition’s voice commands,
To march, and fight, and fall, in foreign lands.

I hate that drum’s discordant sound,
Parading round, and round, and round:
To me it talks of ravag’d plains,
And burning towns, and ruin’d swains,
And mangled limbs, and dying groans,
And widows' tears, and orphans' moans;
And all that misery’s hand bestows,
To fill the catalogue of human woes.

~~
John Scott of Amwell
from Poetical Works, 1782

[Poem is in the public domain world-wide]