Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Canadian Rossignol (In May) / E.W. Thomson

The Canadian Rossignol (In May)

When furrowed fields of shaded brown,
     And emerald meadows spread between,
And belfries towering from the town,
     All blent in wavering mists are seen;
When quickening woods with freshening hue
     Along Mount Royal rolling swell,
When winds caress and May is new,
     Oh, then my shy bird sings so well!

Because the bloodroots flock so white,
     And blossoms scent the wooing air,
And mounds with trillium flags are dight,
     And dells with violets frail and rare;
Because such velvet leaves unclose,
     And new-born rills all chiming ring,
And blue the sun-kissed river flows,
     My timid bird is forced to sing.

A joyful flourish lilted clear,
     Four notes, then fails the frolic song,
And memories of a sweeter year
     The wistful cadences prolong;—
“A sweeter year — Oh, heart too sore!—
     I cannot sing!”— So ends the lay.
Long silence. Then awakes once more
     His song, ecstatic with the May.

E.W. Thomson (1949-1924)
from The Many-Mansioned House, and other poems, 1909

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

E.W. Thomson biography

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Renaissance / A.G. Stephens


In my ears it is sounding to-day,
The song of the Spring!
How my heart leaps, and urges the blood in swift surges to greet the sweet Spring!
And my pulse, from low undertones rising to thunder-tones, trumpets the challenge of mystical May,
Of witching September, while Winter's dull ember
Glows fierce in the glamour of Spring,
The passion-fed furnace of Spring!
And my Love, she is tingling to-day
To the touch of the Spring!
How she trembles and thrills as from numberless rills pours the full tide of Spring!
And her eyes are veiled oceans whence amorous potions I quaff in a fury, as one who is fey:
She bears me no malice, but holds up for chalice
Her lips brimming over with Spring,
All ruddied and coralled with Spring.
O my Youth! Let us make holiday,
Give a garland to Spring!
For you flower from her root and your ecstasies shoot from the sources of Spring!
Not a throb gay or tragic her alchemy magic has missed from the cycles of worlds passed away:
Kiss of atoms thick-thronging, sighs of spheres mad with longing,
A Deity burning, a Universe yearning —
All summed up in Spring!

A.G. Stephens (1865-1933)
from The Pearl and the Octopus, 1911

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

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Spring-Time / Ernest Radford


Where chestnuts overhang the stream
Our boat shall lie; here may we dream
An hour away, and Care may wait.
          Ah! sweet —
          Ah! sweet
Thus for one hour to deviate
From the rude pathway marked by Fate.

Our home is here: the skylark flings
His music down, and tiniest things
Beat the still air with labouring wings.
          Ah! sweet the odours,
          Sweet the song;
Sweet to forget, these scenes among,
The jarring discords of the throng.

Now glide we onward ever slow,
And now, in the opal afterglow,
Listen, a voice sings clear and low.
          Ah! sweet the singer;
          Sweet the strain!
Ah when, ah when, tired heart and brain,
Will that song gladden thee again?

Ernest Radford (1857-1919)
from Old and New: A collection of poems, 1895

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Rock Me to Sleep / Elizabeth Akers Allen

Rock Me to Sleep

Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight!
Mother, come back from the echoless shore,
Take me again to your heart as of yore;
Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care,
Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair;
Over my slumbers your loving watch keep;–   
Rock me to sleep, mother,– rock me to sleep!

Backward, flow backward, O tide of the years!
I am so weary of toil and of tears,–   
Toil without recompense, tears all in vain,–
Take them, and give me my childhood again!
I have grown weary of dust and decay,–
Weary of flinging my soul-wealth away;
Weary of sowing for others to reap;–
Rock me to sleep, mother,– rock me to sleep!

Tired of the hollow, the base, the untrue,
Mother, O mother, my heart calls for you!
Many a summer the grass has grown green,
Blossomed and faded, our faces between:
Yet, with strong yearning and passionate pain,
Long I tonight for your presence again.
Come from the silence so long and so deep;–
Rock me to sleep, mother,– rock me to sleep!

Over my heart, in the days that are flown,
No love like mother-love ever has shone;
No other worship abides and endures,–   
Faithful, unselfish, and patient like yours:
None like a mother can charm away pain
From the sick soul and the world-weary brain.
Slumber’s soft calms o’er my heavy lids creep;–   
Rock me to sleep, mother,– rock me to sleep!

Come, let your brown hair, just lighted with gold,
Fall on your shoulders again as of old;
Let it drop over my forehead tonight,
Shading my faint eyes away from the light;
For with its sunny-edged shadows once more
Haply will throng the sweet visions of yore;
Lovingly, softly, its bright billows sweep;–
Rock me to sleep, mother,– rock me to sleep!

Mother, dear mother, the years have been long
Since I last listened your lullaby song:
Sing, then, and unto my soul it shall seem
Womanhood’s years have been only a dream.
Clasped to your heart in a loving embrace,
With your light lashes just sweeping my face,
Never hereafter to wake or to weep;–   
Rock me to sleep, mother,– rock me to sleep!

Elizabeth Akers Allen (1832-1911)
from Poems, 1866

[Poem is in the public domain world-wide]

Elizabeth Akers Allen biography

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Lute-Player / Frank Pearce Sturm

The Lute-Player

Beloved, when I see your face
Move through this green and sunlit place,
Where the cool morning-thoughts of Spring
Passing, remember no past thing,
Where feathered tumult shakes the leaves,
But no lamenting lute-string grieves,
My heart is troubled: the tall grass
That bends and whispers while you pass
Would fade, did not your secret eyes
Hide their dreams from the open skies
Beneath drooped lids: did not your hands
Bind your strange heart with occult bands.
And the light sprays that bend green tips
To touch your pale brows and red lips,
Shrink and draw back in fear and shame,
For like some white immortal flame
That burns while Time is withering,
You stand among the buds of Spring.

Ah, take your seven-stringed lute, whose wires
Once wakened green and crimson fires
Out of the slumbering gems you wore,
And when my heart awakes once more
And the flame trembles, I will sing
How fugitive are Youth and Spring:
While scented blossoms from above
Drop down their petals on our love,
And grief becomes a grey content,
Seven strings, seven sorrows, lament, lament.

Frank Pearce Sturm (1879-1942)
from An Hour of Reverie, 1905

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

Frank Pearce Sturm biography

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Lines (When youthful faith has fled) /
John Gibson Lockhart


When youthful faith has fled,
   Of loving take thy leave;
Be constant to the dead —
   The dead cannot deceive.

Sweet modest flowers of spring,
   How fleet your balmy day!
And man's brief year can bring
   No secondary May.

No earthly burst again
   Of gladness out of gloom;
Fond hope and vision vain,
   Ungrateful to the tomb!

But 'tis an old belief,
   That on some solemn shore,
Beyond the sphere of grief,
   Dear friends will meet once more.

Beyond the sphere of time,
   And sin, and fate's control,
Serene in changeless prime
   Of body and of soul.

That creed I fain would keep,
   That hope I'll not forego;
Eternal be the sleep,
   Unless to waken so.

John Gibson Lockhart (1794-1854)
from the Oxford Book of Victorian Verse, 1922

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Gibson Lockhart biography

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Green Door / C.F. MacIntyre

The Green Door

from “Rodomontades

Here in the May we danced on violets
  And blew off golden bubbles. Ah, my love,
How shall I name the sorrows and regrets
  I pluck, and the black drink I press thereof?

Now you dream deeply, wise in death’s great lore;      
  I lean above you where the crickets sing,
And fumble the dumb latch of the green door —
  You of the Maytime, lovely, wantoning.

C.F. MacIntyre (1890-1967)
from Poetry, May 1920

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

C.F. MacIntyre biography