Sunday, February 19, 2017

To the Same (Philoclea) / Robert Potter

To the Same (Philoclea)

Hark, how the chill north chides among the trees,
Making us shrink and shiver at the sound!
See, how the snow comes beating in the breeze,
And covers with unkindly cold the ground!
Keen cuts the cold with bitter-biting hate,
And sad th' unsightly season's stormy state.

The dainty daisy, and the primrose pale,
The silver'd snow-drop, and the violet blue,
The gorgeous daffodil that decks the dale,
The crocus glitt'ring in his golden hue,
Fold up their silken leaves, and droop their heads,
As they wou'd shrink again into their beds.

Mute is the music of the thrushes' throat;
No more the lively linnet sweetly sings;
Hush'd is the light lark's wildly warbled note,
And the gay goldfinch droops his gaudy wings;
The robin-red-breast, indigent and chill,
Knocks at the casement with familiar bill.

Pierc'd with the eager air the hardy hind,
Wrapt in his coarse-spun duffield bends along;
And hastens homeward from the wintry wind,
Nor chears his journey with one jocund song:
The houseless herds from such a raging sky
For shelter to the friendly hedge-rows fly.

This is the mirror of my mournfull mind,
All there is winter's waste, alas the while!
For thou, my Philoclea, art unkind,
Ah! too unkind to bless me with a smile:
All as the year with wrathfull winter wasted,
The budding blossoms of my joys are blasted.

Mirth, goddess gay, my pensive breast forsakes,
The lightly tripping train of pleasures flies;
Here his sad seat mute melancholy makes,
And dull despair, the god of doleful sighs:
With chiding blasts blow, blow thou winter's wind,
Thy murmurs are meet music for my wind.

But when the genial ruler of the year
Chears the glad vallies with a vernal ray,
Deck'd in their lovely liveries they appear,
With blooming bushes and fresh flowrets gay:
Pruning their painted plumes the sweet birds sing,
The hills, the dales, the woods, the fountains ring.

So, Philoclea, should'st thou sweetly smile
In pity of my painfull pangs of love,
That smile wou'd ev'ry cruel care beguile,
And wastfull winter from my heart remove;
Rose-robed the sprightly spring wou'd revel here,
And own thee for the ruler of my year.

Robert Potter (1721-1804)
from Poems, 1774

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Saturday, February 18, 2017

February (Saint Valentine) / J. Ashby-Sterry

from The Social Zodiac:


Saint Valentine! The post is late!
No letters come — 'tis long past Eight!
     But on this bright auspicious day
     Frivolity holds laughing sway,
And sober people have to wait!

The burdened postmen moan their fate,
This Festival they reprobate;
     And often think they'd like to flay
           Saint Valentine!

But in these views you'll find Miss Kate
Does not at all participate;
     And Beryl, Baby, Minnie, May,
     With Gertie, Ethel, Lily, Fay,
Right gleefully commemorate —
           Saint Valentine!

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

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

J. Ashby-Sterry biography

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sonnet for the 14th of February / Thomas Hood

Sonnet for the 14th of February

No popular respect will I omit
To do thee honor on this happy day,
When every loyal lover tasks his wit
His simple truth in studious rhymes to pay,
And to his mistress dear his hopes convey.
Rather thou knowest I would still outrun
All calendars with Love’s — whose date alway
Thy bright eyes govern better than the Sun —
For with thy favor was my life begun;
And still I reckon on from smiles to smiles,
And not by summers, for I thrive on none
But those thy cheerful countenance complies:
Oh! if it be to choose and call thee mine,
Love, thou art every day my Valentine.

Thomas Hood (1799-1845)
from Poems, 1846

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Game of Chess / Mortimer Collins

A Game of Chess

Terrace and lawn are white with frost,
Whose fretwork flowers upon the panes —
A mocking dream of summer, lost
'Mid winter's icy chains.

White-hot, indoors, the great logs gleam,
Veiled by a flickering flame of blue:
I see my love as in a dream —
Her eyes are azure, too

She binds her hair behind her ears
(Each little ear so like a shell),
Touches her ivory Queen, and fears
She is not playing well.

For me, I think of nothing less:
I think how those pure pearls become her —
And which is sweetest, winter chess
Or garden strolls in summer.

O linger, frost, upon the pane!
O faint blue flame, still softly rise!
O, dear one, thus with me remain,
That I may watch thine eyes!

Mortimer Collins (1827-1876)
from The Inn of Strange Meetings, 1871

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Mortimer Collins biography

Saturday, February 11, 2017

February in Rome / Edmund Gosse

February in Rome

When Roman fields are red with cyclamen,
  And in the palace gardens you may find,
  Under great leaves and sheltering briony-bind,
Clusters of cream-white violets, oh then
The ruined city of immortal men      
  Must smile, a little to her fate resigned,
  And through her corridors the slow warm wind
Gush harmonies beyond a mortal ken.
Such soft favonian airs upon a flute,
  Such shadowy censers burning live perfume,    
  Shall lead the mystic city to her tomb;
Nor flowerless springs, nor autumns without fruit,
Nor summer mornings when the winds are mute,
  Trouble her soul till Rome be no more Rome.

Edmund Gosse (1849-1928)
from New Poems, 1879

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

Edmund Gosse biography

Sunday, February 5, 2017

February / Ralph Hodgson


A few tossed thrushes save
That carolled less than cried
Against the dying rave
And moan that never died,
No bird sang then; no thorn,
No tree was green beside
Them only never shorn –
The few by all the winds
And chill mutations born
Of Winter's many minds
Abused and whipt in vain –
Swarth yew and ivy kinds
And iron breeds germane.

Ralph Hodgson (1871-1962)
from Poems, 1917

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

Ralph Hodgson biography

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Six O'Clock / Trumbull Stickney

Six O'Clock

Now burst above the city's cold twilight
The piercing whistles and the tower-clocks:
For day is done. Along the frozen docks
The workmen set their ragged shirts aright.
Thro' factory doors a stream of dingy light
Follows the scrimmage as it quickly flocks
To hut and home among the snow's gray blocks.-
I love you, human labourers. Good-night!
Good-night to all the blackened arms that ache!
Good-night to every sick and sweated brow.
To the poor girl that strength and love forsake.
To the poor boy who can no more! I vow
The victim soon shall shudder at the stake
And fall in blood: we bring him even now.

Trumbull Stickney (1874-1904)
from The Poems of Trumbull Stickney, 1905

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Trumbull Stickney biography