Monday, May 31, 2010

The Flute of Spring / Bliss Carman

The Flute of Spring

I know a shining meadow stream
That winds beneath an Eastern hill,
And all year long in sun or gloom
Its murmuring voice is never still.

The summer dies more gently there,
The April flowers are earlier,—
The first warm rain-wind from the Sound
Sets all their eager hearts astir.

And there when lengthening twilights fall
As softly as a wild bird's wing,
Across the valley in the dusk
I hear the silver flute of spring.

Bliss Carman (1861-1929)
from Echoes from Vagabondia, 1912

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

Bliss Carman biography

Penny's Top 30 - April 2010

Sitemeter, the service that  tracks The Betty Blog's readership, tells me the blog has had 1,100 visitors since it began using the service in March. It also says there have been just over 5,350 page views  in that time. Unfortunately, the free version of  Sitemeter (the one used here for now) does not tell how many views were received by individual pages. Similarly, google Adsense gives the total number of page impressions since it was begun in January (7,100), but not how much any one page received. Any information on that has to be gleaned elsewhere.

TheBestLinks, another free service TBB uses, allows readers to subscribe and be notified whenever the blog is updated. This is not a service I recommend. I think one gets the same service by becoming a blog Follower using Google Friend Connect; and I would encourage readers to use the latter instead. As well, I have no direct knowledge of BestLinks, and do not know what (if any) other uses they have for the email addresses they collect. Still I advertise TheBestLinks service because, in return, it gives limited data on individual page views for TBB. Not complete information; only the number of views for "Last Day," "Last Week," and "Last Month." But partial information is better than none.

Today I was rereading the BestLinks report and thinking it a pity that the March data is no longer available. Then it struck me that the current "Last Month" data will also become unavailable in just a few days' time. Accordingly, I decided to archive it. Not without some reservations -- it is trivia I doubt that many readers will want to see -- but it does interest me; and I had to ask myself: What is the point of maintaining my own blog if I can't post what I want on it? ...

Update: I've since added links to the poems and omitted the non-poems from the list, to make this consistent with the "Penny's Top 20" format. But I've left the numbers on here, as (this being the best month the blog has ever had), I thought they looked pretty impressive.

The non-poem posts or pages I omitted were: Home page, 942; "Poetry and verse archive" page, 476; "Submit your poem here" page, 34;  "Buying Betty" page, 27)

1.   Ganesha Girl on Rankin, Will Dockery                                      92
2.   Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens                                66
3.   A Meadow in Spring, Tom Bishop                                                58
4.   baguette David Rutkowski                                                            55
5.   Mars & Avril, George Dance                                                           44

6.   4 poems, Tom Hendricks                                                                 40
7.  You Are My Thorn, Kasia Lachowska                                         40
8.   March, George Dance                                                                        40
9.   White Sands Meet the Blue/Green Sea, Jeanne Ames          35
10. Jumbo Park, Stuart Leichter                                                          34

11. portrait, Shaun Hull                                                                           33
12. Threat, R.K. Singh                                                                               33
13. The Weary Man, Crystal Matteau                                                29
14. concrete, ray heinrich                                                                   28
15. Plow Sharing, Hieronymous707                                                 28

16. The Smoker, nounofme                                                                    27
17. Maui '70, Matt E.                                                                                26
18. NebulaDesi DiNardo                                                                       26
19. Prison, Dave Holloway                                                                    24
20. Penny, George Dance                                                                        24

21. Who Was Here First?, David George                                            24
22. Principia PoeticaObsidian Eagle                                                22
23. Sticky Sweaty, rickthecockroach                                                22
24. Hero, Maureen Dance                                                                      21
25. The Whitening, James D. Senetto                                                21

26. Sonny Rollins, Adam Lynn                                                           19
27. In the Garden, George Dance                                                       19
28. Fuji-san, George Dance                                                                   18
29. News, AE Reiff                                                                                      16
30. Haiku and triolet, R.S. Mallari                                                      15

Source: The Best Links. Web. May 31, 2010.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The May Magnificat / Gerard Manley Hopkins

The May Magnificat

May is Mary's month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
    Her feasts follow reason,
    Dated due to season—

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
    Why fasten that upon her,
    With a feasting in her honour?

Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?
    Is it opportunest
    And flowers finds soonest?

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
    Question: What is Spring?—
    Growth in every thing—

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
    Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
    Throstle above her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
    And bird and blossom swell
    In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
    With that world of good,
    Nature's motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
    How she did in her stored
    Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring's universal bliss
    Much, had much to say
    To offering Mary May.

When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
    And thicket and thorp are merry
    With silver-surfèd cherry

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
    And magic cuckoocall
    Caps, clears, and clinches all—

This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ's birth
    To remember and exultation
    In God who was her salvation.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Gerard Manley Hopkins biography

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Winds of May / James Joyce


Winds of May, that dance on the sea,
Dancing a ring-around in glee
From furrow to furrow, while overhead
The foam flies up to be garlanded,
In silvery arches spanning the air,
Saw you my true love anywhere?
      Welladay! Welladay!
      For the winds of May!
Love is unhappy when love is away!

James Joyce (1882-1941)
from Chamber Music, 1907

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

James Joyce biography

Friday, May 28, 2010

Phillida and Coridon / Nicholas Breton

Phillida and Coridon

In the merry month of May,
In a morn by break of day,
Forth I walked by the wood-side
When as May was in his pride:
There I spièd all alone
Phillida and Coridon.
Much ado there was, God wot!
He would love and she would not.
She said, Never man was true;
He said, None was false to you.
He said, He had loved her long;
She said, Love should have no wrong.
Coridon would kiss her then;
She said, Maids must kiss no men
Till they did for good and all;
Then she made the shepherd call
All the heavens to witness truth
Never loved a truer youth.
Thus with many a pretty oath,
Yea and nay, and faith and troth,
Such as silly shepherds use
When they will not Love abuse,
Love, which had been long deluded,
Was with kisses sweet concluded;
And Phillida, with garlands gay,
Was made the Lady of the May.

Nicholas Breton

[Poem is in the public domain]

Nicholas Breton biography

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Furrow / Charles G.D. Roberts

The Furrow

How sombre slope these acres to the sea
And to the breaking sun! The sun-rise deeps
Of rose and crocus, whence the far dawn leaps,
Gild but with scorn their grey monotony.
The glebe rests patient for its joy to be.
Past the salt field-foot many a dim wing sweeps;
And down the field a first slow furrow creeps,
Pledge of near harvests to the unverdured lea.

With clank of harness tramps the serious team--
The sea air thrills their nostrils. Some wise crows
Feed confidently behind the ploughman's feet.
In the early chill the clods fresh cloven steam,
And down its griding path the keen share goes:
So, from a scar, best flowers the future's sweet.

Charles G.D. Roberts (1860-1943)
from Songs of the Common Day, and Ave!, 1893

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

Charles G.D. Roberts (by George Dance)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Sower / Charles G.D. Roberts

The Sower

A brown sad-coloured hillside, where the soil,
Fresh from the frequent harrow, deep and fine,
Lies bare; no break in the remote sky-line,
Save where a flock of pigeons streams aloft,
Startled from feed in some low-lying croft,
Or far-off spires with yellow of sunset shine;
And here the Sower, unwittingly divine,
Exerts the silent forethought of his toil.

Alone he treads the glebe, his measured stride
Dumb in the yielding soil; and tho' small joy
Dwell in his heavy face, as spreads the blind
Pale grain from his dispensing palm aside,
This plodding churl grows great in his employ;--
Godlike, he makes provision for mankind.

Charles G.D. Roberts
from In Divers Tones, 1886

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

Charles G.D. Roberts (by George Dance)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Waking of Earth / Charles G.D. Roberts

The Waking of Earth

With shy bright clamour the live brooks sparkle and run.
     Freed flocks confer about the farmstead ways.
     The air's a wine of dreams and shining haze,
Beaded with bird-notes thin, — for Spring's begun!
The sap flies upward. Death is over and done.
     The glad earth wakes; the glad light breaks; the days
     Grow round, grow radiant. Praise for the new life! Praise
For bliss of breath and blood beneath the sun!

What potent wizardry the wise earth wields,
To conjure with a perfume! From bare fields
     The sense drinks in a breath of furrow and sod.
And lo, the bound of days and distance yields;
     And fetterless the soul is flown abroad,
     Lord of desire and beauty, like a God!

Charles G.D. Roberts
from Songs of the Common Day, 1893

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

Charles G.D. Roberts biography

Monday, May 24, 2010

Spring Breaks in Foam / Charles G.D. Roberts

Spring Breaks in Foam

Spring breaks in foam
     Along the blackthorn bough.
Whitethroat and goldenwing
     And mating now.
With green buds in the copse
     And gold bloom in the sun
Earth is one ecstasy
     Of life begun.
And on my heart
     Spring breaks in glad surprise
As the long frosts of the long years melt
     At your dear eyes.

Charles G.D. Roberts (1860-1943)
from The Vagrant of Time, 1927

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

Charles G.D. Roberts (by George J. Dance)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Dying Philosopher to his Fiddler /
John Drinkwater

The Dying Philosopher to His Fiddler

Come, fiddler, play one tune before I die.
Philosophy is barren, and I lie
Untouched now by the plagues of all the schools,
And only silly fiddlers are not fools.

Bring then your bow, and on the strings let be,
In this last hour, merely the melody
Of waves and leaves and footfalls hazardous,
Where crafty logic shall not keep with us.

The patient fields of knowledge did I sow;
I have done with knowledge — for I nothing know,
Wisdom and folly set their faces hence,
And in their eyes a twin-intelligence.

Only your notes may quick again the keen
Tree-shadows cut upon the paddock's green.
The pools where mirrored branches are at rest,
The heron lifting to her windy nest.

And these are things that know not argument;
Come, fiddler, play; philosophy is spent.
Out of my thought the chiding doctors slip,
And you are now the only scholarship.

John Drinkwater
from Seeds of Time, 1921

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

John Drinkwater biography

Saturday, May 22, 2010

May Garden / John Drinkwater

May Garden

A shower of green gems on my apple tree
This first morning of May
Has fallen out of the night, to be
Herald of holiday --
Bright gems of green that, fallen there,
Seem fixed and glowing on the air.

Until a flutter of blackbird wings
Shakes and makes the boughs alive,
And the gems are now no frozen things,
But apple-green buds to thrive
On sap of my May garden, how well
The green September globes will tell.

Also my pear tree has its buds
But they are silver-yellow,
Like autumn meadows when the floods
Are silver under willow,
And here shall long and shapely pears
Be gathered while the autumn wears.

And there are sixty daffodils
Beneath my wall. . . .
And jealousy it is that kills
This world when all
The spring's behaviour here is spent
To make the world magnificent.

John Drinkwater (1882-1937)
from Tides, 1917

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

John Drinkwater biography

Friday, May 21, 2010

Like a Hundred Flowers

Today I was updating the blog's Poetry and Verse Archive, adding the newest entry (Dr. R.K. Singh's Midnight Cry). It took me some time to scroll down to 'S', time in which it hit me just how much the Archive page has changed over April and May.

Back in February, when I began the archive, there were only two poets listed: Wallace Stevens and I. March raised that number to eight, sharing 41 poems among them. The poetry has more than doubled since then, with 30 poems added in April, and another 15 so far this month.

The change in the number of poets was even more dramatic.The April magazine project last month more than tripled that number, bringing 26 new poets to the blog. ("New" in more than one sense of the word: these 26 are writing contemporary poetry, and their work will no doubt be new to most readers.) A further 5 poets have been represented in May.

A neat bonus from the changes to the page has been the improved access to Wallace Stevens's Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction. The 32 parts of that magnum opus were added in February, and make up the complete blog archive for that month. Since the Archive page was created in February, the "Blog Archive" appearing on its lower left is the linked table of contents for "Notes" -- which has now, with the growth of the Poetry and Verse Archive, become an integral part of the latter.

The diference in the page is amazing. It's as if a hundred new flowers had suddenly bloomed in a previously sparse bed. As new, as different, and as beautiful in its own right. I'd urge all readers to visit the Archive page and enjoy these changes for themselves.

Midnight Cry / R.K. Singh


No use abusing
or cursing anyone when
restless and breathless
I cry to God to help me
for a while let me sleep

sexless meditate
in the darkest of hours
negotiate peace
with self and rest even if
I exist in my sufferings

R.K. Singh

Names in Smoke, by Ram Krishna Singh
R.K. Singh's blogs: and

[All rights reserved by the author - Used with permission]

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Hawk / Raymond Knister

The Hawk

Across the bristled and sallow fields,
The speckled stubble of cut clover,
Wades your shadow.
Or against a grimy and tattered
You plunge.
Or you shear a swath
From the trembling tiny forests
With the steel of your wings
Or make a row of waves
By the heat of your flight
Along the soundless horizon.

Raymond Knister (1889-1932)

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

Raymond Knister biography

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Love Song / Duncan Campbell Scott

A Love Song

I gave her a rose in early June,
Fed with the sun and the dew,
Each petal I said is a note in the tune,
The rose is the whole tune through and through,
The tune is the whole red-hearted rose,
Flush and form, honey and hue,
Lull with the cadence and throb to the close,
I love you, I love you, I love you.

She gave me a rose in early June,
Fed with the sun and the dew,
Each petal she said is a mount in the moon,
The rose is the whole moon through and through,
The moon is the whole pale-hearted rose,
Round and radiance, burnish and blue,
Break in the flood-tide that murmurs and flows,
I love you, I love you, I love you.

This is our love in early June,
Fed with the sun and the dew,
Moonlight and roses hid in a tune,
The roses are music through and through,
The moonlight falls in the breath of the rose,
Light and cadence, honey and hue,
Mingle, and murmur, and flow to the close,
I love you, I love you, I love you.

Duncan Campbell Scott
from Lundy's Lane and other poems, 1916

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

Duncan Campbell Scott (by George J. Dance)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tattoo / Wallace Stevens


The light is like a spider.
It crawls over the water.
It crawls over the edges of the snow.
It crawls under your eyelids
And spreads its webs there — 
Its two webs.

The webs of your eyes
Are fastened
To the flesh and bones of you
As to rafters of grass.

There are filaments of your eyes
On the surface of the water
And in the edges of the snow.

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), 1916
from Harmonium, 1923

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

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tichborne's Elegy / Chidiock Tichborne

Tichborne's Elegy,

Written with his own hand in the Tower
before his execution

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain;
The day is past, and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

My tale was heard and yet it was not told,
My fruit is fall'n and yet my leaves are green,
My youth is spent and yet I am not old,
I saw the world and yet I was not seen;
My thread is cut and yet it is not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I looked for life and saw it was a shade,
I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I was but made:
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

Chidiock Tichborne

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Chidiock Tichborne biography

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Boy Remembers in the Field / Raymond Knister

Boy Remembers in the Field

What if the sun comes out
And the new furrows do not look smeared?

This is April, and the sumach candles
Have guttered long ago.
The crows in the twisted apple limbs
Are as moveless and dark.

Drops on the wires, cold cheeks,
The mist, the long snorts, silence . . .
The horses will steam when the sun comes;
Crows go, shrieking.

Another bird now; sweet . . .
Pitiful life, useless,
Innocently creeping
On a useless planet

If any voice called, I would hear?
It has been the same before.
Soil glistens, the furrow rolls, sleet shifts, brightens.

Raymond Knister

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

Raymond Knister (by George Dance)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Sonnet of the Moon / Charles Best

A Sonnet of the Moon

Look how the pale queen of the silent night
Doth cause the ocean to attend upon her;
And he, as long as she is in his sight,
With his full tide is ready her to honor:
But when the silver wagon of the moon
Is mounted up so high he cannot follow,
The sea calls home his crystal waves to moan,
And with low ebb doth manifest his sorrow.
So you that are the sovereign of my heart
Have all my joys attending on your will;
My joys low-ebbing when you do depart,
When you return their tide my heart doth fill:
     So as you come and as you do depart,
     Joys ebb and flow within my tender heart.

Charles Best 
from A Poetical Rhapsody (2nd edition), 1608

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Charles Best biography

New Bettywork coming in June.

Interestingly (to me and possibly to some others), I find myself writing another Bettywork. Drafts of the individual strophes are being published on alt.arts.poetry and alt.arts.poetry.comments, and final versions will appear here on the blog in June. The new effort is called "Betty's OS", and will feature computer operating systems. (Betty's OS will of course be Red Hat).

If that sounds as if I didn't consciously set out to write "Betty's OS," the impression is correct; I didn't. Nevertheless, I can see reasons for doing it right now. Whether those were reasons I held unconsciously before, or ones I've come up with since to justify the effort, doesn't seem to matter.

First, I wanted to get writing again. I went into a creative slump after I quit smoking at the end of February (and also got busy with compiling April magazine) and wrote only one very short, quick poem ("Orbison") through March and April. The rigid format of a Bettywork makes it a good one for returning to writing, as it's relatively easy to write in it without worrying about how well one's doing (as there's really only one way to do it).

Second, I wanted there to be more to Betty than the one datum. People have been asking me about her, and I've had to think about those questions. There's no reason (except for the practical problem of finding a suitable list) not to write a "Betty" poem about every interesting fact about the character. Similarly, each list gives both the opportunity to introduce new words and word-combinations, and the challenge of putting those words into lines using the available poetic conventions and constraints (lots of alliteration and assonance/consonance, much repetition, very little rhyme or meter).

So I'm now considering "Betty's OS" to be only the second in a continuing series. Another thing I've been thinking of in that light is renaming the original "Betty" (to "Betty's Hat") to emphasize that it's just one of a bunch. Not that they'll all be equal to that heroic effort; except for one imagined future Bettywork, about Betty's favourite band, I expect they'll all be much shorter. In the new one, for example, the first four strophes (A-D) come in at 150 lines, shorter than the A strophe of the first. That's not a bad thing, though, since shorter works with shorter strophes may be more accessible, better as an introduction to the type.

I also see the blog format as the ideal place to post these new Bettyworks, for the same reasons I began this  blog to post the original. The monthly archive feature allows one to post long works over the course of a month, as a series of short pieces, and retrieve and read them back later as either one long continuous work or separate short works. So far, three longer works have been archived that way:

Every second month has been devoted to archiving a long work; a trend that will continue in June.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Sun Cup / Archibald Lampman

The Sun Cup 

The earth is the cup of the sun,
That he filleth at morning with wine,
With the warm, strong wine of his might
From the vintage of gold and of light,
Fills it, and makes it divine.

And at night when his journey is done,
At the gate of his radiant hall,
He setteth his lips to the brim,
With a long last look of his eye,
And lifts it and draineth it dry,
Drains till he leaveth it all
Empty and hollow and dim.

And then, as he passes to sleep,
Still full of the feats that he did,
Long ago in Olympian wars,
He closes it down with the sweep
Of its slow-turning luminous lid,
Its cover of darkness and stars,
Wrought once by Hephaestus of old
With violet and vastness and gold.

Archibald Lampman (1861-1899)
from Lyrics of Earth, 1895

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Archibald Lampman biography

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Gravedigger / Bliss Carman

The Gravedigger

Oh, the shambling sea is a sexton old,
And well his work is done.
With an equal grave for lord and knave,
He buries them every one.

Then hoy and rip, with a rolling hip,
He makes for the nearest shore;
And God, who sent him a thousand ship,
Will send him a thousand more;
But some he'll save for a bleaching grave,
And shoulder them in to shore,—
Shoulder them in, shoulder them in,
Shoulder them in to shore.

Oh, the ships of Greece and the ships of Tyre
Went out, and where are they?
In the port they made, they are delayed
With the ships of yesterday.

He followed the ships of England far,
As the ships of long ago;
And the ships of France they led him a dance,
But he laid them all arow.

Oh, a loafing, idle lubber to him
Is the sexton of the town;
For sure and swift, with a guiding lift,
He shovels the dead men down.

But though he delves so fierce and grim,
His honest graves are wide,
As well they know who sleep below
The dredge of the deepest tide.

Oh, he works with a rollicking stave at lip,
And loud is the chorus skirled;
With the burly rote of his rumbling throat
He batters it down the world.

He learned it once in his father's house,
Where the ballads of eld were sung;
And merry enough is the burden rough,
But no man knows the tongue.

Oh, fair, they say, was his bride to see,
And wilful she must have been,
That she could bide at his gruesome side
When the first red dawn came in.

And sweet, they say, is her kiss to those
She greets to his border home;
And softer than sleep her hand's first sweep
That beckons, and they come.

Oh, crooked is he, but strong enough
To handle the tallest mast;
From the royal barque to the slaver dark,
He buries them all at last.

Then hoy and rip, with a rolling hip,
He makes for the nearest shore;
And God, who sent him a thousand ship,
Will send him a thousand more;
But some he'll save for a bleaching grave,
And shoulder them in to shore,—
Shoulder them in, shoulder them in,
Shoulder them in to shore.

Bliss Carman
from Ballads of Lost Haven, 1897

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

Bliss Carman (by George J. Dance)

Monday, May 10, 2010

To Daffodils / Robert Herrick

To Daffodils 

Fair daffodils, we weep to see
   You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
   Has not attain'd his noon.
                 Stay, stay
      Until the hasting day
                 Has run
      But to the evensong;
And having prayed together, we
      Will go with you along.

We have short time to stay, as you,
   We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay,
   As you, or anything.
                 We die
      As your hours do, and dry
      Like to the summer's rain;
Or as the pearls of morning's dew,
      Ne'er to be found again.

Robert Herrick
from Hesperides, 1648

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Robert Herrick biography

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Of Modern Poetry / Wallace Stevens

Of Modern Poetry 

The poem of the mind in the act of finding
What will suffice. It has not always had
To find: the scene was set; it repeated what
Was in the script.
                        Then the theatre was changed

To something else. Its past was a souvenir.
It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place.
It has to face the men of the time and to meet
The women of the time. It has to think about war
And it has to find what will suffice. It has
To construct a new stage. It has to be on that stage,
And, like an insatiable actor, slowly and
With meditation, speak words that in the ear,
In the delicatest ear of the mind, repeat,
Exactly, that which it wants to hear, at the sound
Of which, an invisible audience listens,
Not to the play, but to itself, expressed
In an emotion as of two people, as of two
Emotions becoming one. The actor is
A metaphysician in the dark, twanging
An instrument, twanging a wiry string that gives
Sounds passing through sudden rightnesses, wholly
Containing the mind, below which it cannot descend,
Beyond which it has no will to rise.
                                                      It must
Be the finding of a satisfaction, and may
Be of a man skating, a woman dancing, a woman
Combing. The poem of the act of the mind.

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)1940
from Parts of a World, 1942

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Like a tall forest were their spears / Bliss Carman

from Sappho: One Hundred Lyrics 


Like a tall forest were their spears,
Their banners like a silken sea,
When the great host in splendour passed
Across the crimson sinking sun. 

And then the bray of brazen horns
Arose above their clanking march,
As the long waving column filed
Into the odorous purple dusk.

O lover, in this radiant world
Whence is the race of mortal men,
So frail, so mighty, and so fond,
That fleets into the vast unknown?

Bliss Carman

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

Bliss Carman (by George J. Dance)

The Night Piece, to Julia / Robert Herrick

The Night Piece, to Julia

Her eyes the glow-worm lend thee,
The shooting stars attend thee;
And the elves also,
Whose little eyes glow
Like the sparks of fire, befriend thee.

No Will-o'-the-Wisp mislight thee,
Nor snake or slow-worm bite thee;
But on, on thy way,
Not making a say,
Since ghost there's not to affright thee.

Let not the dark thee cumber:
What though the moon does slumber?
The stars of the night
Will lend thee their light
Like tapers clear without number.

Then, Julia, let me woo thee,
Thus, thus to come unto me;
And when I shall meet
Thy silv'ry feet
My soul I'll pour into thee.

Robert Herrick
from Hesperides, 1648

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Robert Herrick biography

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Over the roofs the honey-coloured moon /
Bliss Carman


Over the roofs the honey-coloured moon,
With purple shadows on the silver grass,

And the warm south-wind on the curving sea,
While we two, lovers past all turmoil now,

Watch from the window the white sails come in,
Bearing what unknown ventures safe to port!

So falls the hour of twilight and of love
With wizardry to loose the hearts of men,

And there is nothing more in this great world
Than thou and I, and the blue dome of dusk.

Bliss Carman
from Sappho: One hundred lyrics, 1903

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

Bliss Carman biography

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cherry-Ripe / Robert Herrick


Cherry-ripe, ripe, ripe, I cry,
Full and fair ones, come and buy.
If so be you ask me where
They do grow, I answer: There,
Where my Julia's lips do smile;
There's the land, or cherry-isle,
Whose plantations fully show
All the year where cherries grow.

Robert Herrick
from Hesperides, 1648

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]
Robert Herrick biography

Amadeo Preziosi, Cherry peddler in Bucharest (1869)
public domain - courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, May 2, 2010

How soon will all my lovely days be over / Bliss Carman

from Sappho: One Hundred Lyrics


How soon will all my lovely days be over,
And I no more be found beneath the sun,—
Neither beside the many-murmuring sea,
Nor where the plain-winds whisper to the reeds,
Nor in the tall beech-woods among the hills
Where roam the bright-lipped Oreads, nor along
The pasture-sides where berry-pickers stray
And harmless shepherds pipe their sheep to fold!

For I am eager, and the flame of life
Burns quickly in the fragile lamp of clay.
Passion and love and longing and hot tears
Consume this mortal Sappho, and too soon
A great wind from the dark will blow upon me,
And I be no more found in the fair world,
For all the search of the revolving moon
And patient shine of everlasting stars.

Bliss Carman

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

Bliss Carman (by George J. Dance)