Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas Trees / Robert Frost

Christmas Trees

          (A Christmas Circular Letter)

The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, I said,
“There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

                                                     “You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north. He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)
from Mountain Interval, 1920

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

Robert Frost biography

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Magi / W.B. Yeats

The Magi

Now as at all times I can see in the mind's eye,
In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones
Appear and disappear in the blue depths of the sky
With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,
And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,
And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,
Being by Calvary's turbulence unsatisfied,
The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
from Responsibilities, 1914

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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Song of Autumn / Rennell Rodd

A Song of Autumn

All through the golden weather
     Until the autumn fell,
Our lives went by together
     So wildly and so well.–

But autumn's wind uncloses
     The heart of all your flowers,
I think as with the roses,
     So hath it been with ours.

Like some divided river
     Your ways and mine will be,
– To drift apart for ever,
     For ever till the sea.

And yet for one word spoken,
     One whisper of regret,
The dream had not been broken
     And love were with us yet.

Rennell Rodd (1858-1941)
from Songs in the South, 1881 

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

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Autumn Twilight / Harry Kemp

Autumn Twilight

Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut

Rich afterglows of Autumn
Fill all the world with light
And elm and oak and maple
Loom up like fire in flight,
And golden is the valley,
And golden is the hill,
And golden is the first star
At twilight's window-sill.

Harry Kemp (1883-1960)
from Chanteys and Ballads, 1920

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

Harry Kemp biography

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Sonnet / George J. Dance

The Sonnet

It starts with staring at an empty page
And trying to find a decent set of rhymes,
With just one thought to stop frustrated rage:
You only have to do this seven times.

Put rhymes in order, notice what they're saying,
Then try to tell that story line-by-line.
When lines are sketched out, then you can start playing
With each one. Use your skills to make it fine:

Use sound to give each line the proper feel,
Alliteration, assonance, and more;
Add concrete images to make it 'real';
Add more of those by using metaphor.

Then at some point you'll stop, read, ponder on it,
And realize you just composed a sonnet.

George J. Dance, 2017

[All rights reserved - used with permission]

George J. Dance biography

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Penny's Top 20 / November 2017

Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in November 2017:

  1.  Winterworld Descending, Will Dockery
  2.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  3.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
  4.  Dulce et Decorum est, Wilfred Owen
  5.  Letter in November, Sylvia Plath
  6.  November in the Park, Dorothy Dudley
  7.  Why the War?, John Gould Fletcher
  8.  There is strange musick ..., William Lisle Bowles
  9.  November (A London Fog), J. Ashby-Sterry

10.  A Dream in November, Edmund Gosse

11.  Fate, Patrick MacGill
12.  The Haunted Palace, Edgar Allan Poe 
13.  A Winter's Tale, D.H. Lawrence
14.  Premonition, George J. Dance
15.  October (Once More at Home), J. Ashby-Sterry 
16.  There Was a Time, George J. Dance
17.  Evil, Arthur Rimbaud
18.  Chaos in Motion and Not in Motion, Wallace Stevens
19.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance  
20.  Three Grey Days, Francis Sherman

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, November 26, 2017

November (A London Fog) / J. Ashby-Sterry


A London Fog, 'tis always here
At this inclement time of year!
     When people hang themselves or drown,
     And Nature wears her blackest frown,
While all the world is dull and drear.

All form and colour disappear
Within this filthy atmosphere:
     'Tis sometimes yellow, sometimes brown,
           A London Fog!

It chokes our lungs, our heads feel queer,
We cannot see, can scarcely hear:
     So when this murky pall drops down —
     Though dearly loving London town —
We feel we cannot quite revere
          A London Fog!

J. Ashby-Sterry (1836-1917)
from The Lazy Minstrel, 1886

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

J. Ashby-Sterry biography