Thursday, September 30, 2010

Song of Late September / Marjorie Pickthall

Song of Late September

In this irised net I keep
All the moth-winged winds of sleep,
In this basket woven of willow
I have silk-weed for your pillow.
In this pouch of plaited reeds
Stars I bear for silver beads.
Choose my pippins for your money,
Reddening pears as smooth as honey,
Golden grapes and apricots,
Herbs from well-grown garden plots;
Basil, balm, and savoury,
All sweet-smelling things there be,
Fruits a many and flowers a few, —
Fiery dahlias drooped in dew,
Wood-grown asters faint as smoke,
Flame of maple, frond of oak.

In this box of foreign woods
I have delicate woven goods;
Orient laces light as mist,
Amber veils and amethyst,
Ivory pins like hardened milk,
Cloaks of silver-shining silk
Wrought with strange embroideries
Of peacock plumes and rose-berries,
Buy a king’s crown lost of old,
Dark with sardius sunk in gold.
Buy my gloves of spiders spun,
Cool as water, warm as sun;
Buy my shoon of yellow leathers
Lined with fur and owlet feathers:
Buy a chain of emerald stones
Or scarlet seeds or cedar cones.
All sweet, delicate things there be
Honest folk may buy of me,
Ere the earliest thrush has flown
In my eyes the dawns are shown.
On my lips the summer lingers,
Rain has jewelled all my fingers;
In my hand the crickets sing,
And the moon’s my golden ring.

Marjorie L.C. Pickthall
The Drift of Pinions, 1913

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

Marjorie Pickthall (by George Dance)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Vagabond Song / Bliss Carman

A Vagabond Song

There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood —
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.

The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry
Of bugles going by
And my lonely spirit thrills
To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills.

There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir;
We must rise and follow her,
When from every hill of flame
She calls and calls each vagabond by name.

Bliss Carman
More Songs from Vagabondia, 1896

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

Bliss Carman biography

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Height of Land / Duncan Campbell Scott [1]

The Height of Land

Here is the height of land:
The watershed on either hand
Goes down to Hudson Bay
Or Lake Superior;
The stars are up, and far away
The wind sounds in the wood, wearier
Than the long Ojibwa cadence
In which Potàn the Wise
Declares the ills of life
And Chees-que-ne-ne makes a mournful sound
Of acquiescence. The fires burn low
With just sufficient glow
To light the flakes of ash that play
At being moths, and flutter away
To fall in the dark and die as ashes:
Here there is peace in the lofty air,
And Something comes by flashes
Deeper than peace: --
The spruces have retired a little space
And left a field of sky in violet shadow
With stars like marigolds in a water-meadow.

Now the Indian guides are dead asleep;
There is no sound unless the soul can hear
The gathering of the waters in their sources.
We have come up through the spreading lakes
From level to level, --
Pitching our tents sometimes over a revel
Of roses that nodded all night,
Dreaming within our dreams,
To wake at dawn and find that they were captured
With no dew on their leaves;
Sometimes mid sheaves
Of bracken and dwarf-cornel, and again
On a wide blueberry plain
Brushed with the shimmer of a bluebird's wing;
A rocky islet followed
With one lone poplar and a single nest
Of white-throat-sparrows that took no rest
But sang in dreams or woke to sing, --
To the last portage and the height of land --:
Upon one hand
The lonely north enlaced with lakes and streams,
And the enormous targe of Hudson Bay,
Glimmering all night
In the cold arctic light;
On the other hand
The crowded southern land
With all the welter of the lives of men.
But here is peace, and again
That Something comes by flashes
Deeper than peace, -- a spell
Golden and inappellable
That gives the inarticulate part
Of our strange being one moment of release
That seems more native than the touch of time,
And we must answer in chime;
Though yet no man may tell
The secret of that spell
Golden and inappellable.


[Poem is in the public domain in Canada and the United States]
To view the complete poem, click here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Height of Land / Duncan Campbell Scott [2]


Now are there sounds walking in the wood,
And all the spruces shiver and tremble,
And the stars move a little in their courses.
The ancient disturber of solitude
Breathes a pervasive sigh,
And the soul seems to hear
The gathering of the waters at their sources;
Then quiet ensues and pure starlight and dark;
The region-spirit murmurs in meditation,
The heart replies in exaltation
And echoes faintly like an inland shell
Ghost tremors of the spell;
Thought reawakens and is linked again
With all the welter of the lives of men.
Here on the uplands where the air is clear
We think of life as of a stormy scene, --
Of tempest, of revolt and desperate shock;
And here, where we can think, on the bright uplands
Where the air is clear, we deeply brood on life
Until the tempest parts, and it appears
As simple as to the shepherd seems his flock:
A Something to be guided by ideals --
That in themselves are simple and serene --
Of noble deed to foster noble thought,
And noble thought to image noble deed,
Till deed and thought shall interpenetrate,
Making life lovelier, till we come to doubt
Whether the perfect beauty that escapes
Is beauty of deed or thought or some high thing
Mingled of both, a greater boon than either:
Thus we have seen in the retreating tempest
The victor-sunlight merge with the ruined rain,
And from the rain and sunlight spring the rainbow.

The ancient disturber of solitude
Stirs his ancestral potion in the gloom,
And the dark wood
Is stifled with the pungent fume
Of charred earth burnt to the bone
That takes the place of air.
Then sudden I remember when and where, --
The last weird lakelet foul with weedy growths
And slimy viscid things the spirit loathes,
Skin of vile water over viler mud
Where the paddle stirred unutterable stenches,
And the canoes seemed heavy with fear,
Not to be urged toward the fatal shore
Where a bush fire, smouldering, with sudden roar
Leaped on a cedar and smothered it with light
And terror. It had left the portage-height
A tangle of slanted spruces burned to the roots,
Covered still with patches of bright fire
Smoking with incense of the fragrant resin
That even then began to thin and lessen
Into the gloom and glimmer of ruin.
'Tis overpast. How strange the stars have grown;
The presage of extinction glows on their crests
And they are beautied with impermanence;
They shall be after the race of men
And mourn for them who snared their fiery pinions,
Entangled in the meshes of bright words.


[Poem is in the public domain in Canada and the United States]
To view the complete poem, click here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Height of Land / Duncan Campbell Scott [3]


A lemming stirs the fern and in the mosses
Eft-minded things feel the air change, and dawn
Tolls out from the dark belfries of the spruces.
How often in the autumn of the world
Shall the crystal shrine of dawning be rebuilt
With deeper meaning! Shall the poet then,
Wrapped in his mantle on the height of land,
Brood on the welter of the lives of men
And dream of his ideal hope and promise
In the blush sunrise? Shall he base his flight
Upon a more compelling law than Love
As Life's atonement; shall the vision
Of noble deed and noble thought immingled
Seem as uncouth to him as the pictograph
Scratched on the cave side by the cave-dweller
To us of the Christ-time? Shall he stand
With deeper joy, with more complex emotion,
In closer commune with divinity,
With the deep fathomed, with the firmament charted,
With life as simple as a sheep-boy's song,
What lies beyond a romaunt that was read
Once on a morn of storm and laid aside
Memorious with strange immortal memories?
Or shall he see the sunrise as I see it
In shoals of misty fire the deluge-light
Dashes upon and whelms with purer radiance,
And feel the lulled earth, older in pulse and motion,
Turn the rich lands and inundant oceans
To the flushed color, and hear as now I hear
The thrill of life beat up the planet's margin
And break in the clear susurrus of deep joy
That echoes and reëchoes in my being?
O Life is intuition the measure of knowledge
And do I stand with heart entranced and burning
At the zenith of our wisdom when I feel
The long light flow, the long wind pause, the deep
Influx of spirit, of which no man may tell
The Secret, golden and inappellable?

Duncan Campbell Scott
Lundy's Lane and Other Poems, 1916

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

Note - The division of The Height of Land into three parts is my own and not found in Scott's text. Due to the poem's langth, I thought it better to post it in installments. The only breaks in Scott's poem are line and verse paragraph breaks. The places where I broke the poem into parts correspond to verse paragraph breaks in Scott's original. GD
To view the complete poem, click here.

Duncan Campbell Scott (by George Dance)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

September Night / George J. Dance

September Night

              and a deeper silence
              when the crickets
                        - Summer Haiku, Leonard Cohen

Around the campfire
smell of burning
leaves in

Crickets serenade
to soothe
the circling dark.
And a deeper silence

swoops down after
a muted splash
quiets the band,
when the crickets

pause – for an instant
nothing rings out like a gong,
for an instant our heartbeats

George J. Dance
from September Night [6 poems],
Other Voices International, Vol. 42 (2009)

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

Friday, September 24, 2010

Autumn's Orchestra / Pauline Johnson


(Inscribed to One Beyond Seas)

Know by the thread of music woven through
This fragile web of cadences I spin,
That I have only caught these songs since you
Voiced them upon your haunting violin.

The Overture

October’s orchestra plays softly on
The northern forest with its thousand strings,
And Autumn, the conductor wields anon
The Golden-rod — The baton that he swings.

     The Firs

     There is a lonely minor chord that sings
     Faintly and far along the forest ways,
     When the firs finger faintly on the strings
     Of that rare violin the night wind plays,
     Just as it whispered once to you and me
     Beneath the English pines beyond the sea.


          The lost wind wandering, forever grieves
               Low overhead,
          Above grey mosses whispering of leaves
               Fallen and dead.
          And through the lonely night sweeps their refrain
          Like Chopin’s prelude, sobbing ’neath the rain.

The Vine

The wild grape mantling the trail and tree,
Festoons in graceful veils its drapery,
Its tendrils cling, as clings the memory stirred
By some evasive haunting tune, twice heard.

The Maple


It is the blood-hued maple straight and strong,
Voicing abroad its patriot songs.


Its daring colours bravely flinging forth
The ensign of the Nation of the North.


          Elfin bell in azure dress,
          Chiming all day long,
          Ringing through the wilderness
          Dulcet notes of song.
          Daintiest of forest flowers
          Weaving like a spell —
          Music through the Autumn hours,
          Little Elfin bell.

The Giant Oak

And then the sound of marching armies woke
Amid the branches of the soldier oak,
And tempests ceased their warring cry, and dumb
The lashing storms that muttered, overcome,
Choked by the heralding of the battle smoke,
When these gnarled branches beat their martial drum.


     A sweet high treble threads its silvery song,
     Voice of the restless aspen, fine and thin
     It thrills its pure soprano, light and long —
     Like the vibretto of a mandolin.


The cedar trees have sung their vesper hymn,
And now the music sleeps —
Its benediction falling where the dim
Dusk of the forest creeps.
Mute grows the great concerto — and the light
Of day is darkening. Good-night, Good-night.

But through the night time I shall hear within
The murmur of these trees,
The calling of your distant violin
Sobbing across the seas,
And waking wind, and star-reflected light
Shall voice my answering, Good-night, Good-night.

E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake)
from Flint and Feather, 1912

[All rights reserved by the author's estate - Please do not copy]

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stevens' "Esthetique du Mal" coming in October

A unique feature of The Betty Blog is its long, multi-part poems each posted in installments over a month, readable as one piece (via that month's archive) or as individual pieces. Since we debuted last December, three such have appeared: the original Betty (now officially "Betty or Betty's Hat"), Betty's OS (in both text-only and the new Enhanced Edition), both by me; and Wallace Stevens' magnum opus, Notes on a Supreme Fiction. October is reserved for one more long poem, and Betty and I have finally picked one.

What decided us was the recent breakout success of Stevens' Notes. In August the Notes archive hit 34 reads. Adding readers who viewed individual pages increases that number to 63; more than two reads a day, enough to make it the #2 most-read feature that month. Several other Stevens poems enjoy consistent double-digit readership and top-ten placement every month.

Why the boom? I suspect a big factor is the copyright status of  this poet in Canada, one of the few remaining  English-speaking countries in which the copyright term for literary works expires 51 years after the author's death. Stevens' poetry is public domain here, but (because it is still copyrighted in the U.S. and Europe) is not already available all over the web. The Betty Blog may have the only complete version of Notes on the web.

The October entry also may be a Betty Blog exclusive: Stevens' "Esthétique du Mal". We decided to go with a second Stevens to give the new Stevens readers something extra, and to attract more if possible by offering something else not widely available (if at all).

Since Esthétique has only 15 parts, the Blog may publish only on alternate days next month; or we may publishd half-stanzas daily. No decision has yet been made. (If you have a preference, you can tell us in the Comments section.) In whichever form it appears, we hope you will enjoy the poem as much as we have.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

To Autumn / William Blake

To Autumn

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain’d
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

“The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.

“The spirits of the air live in the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.”
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat,
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

William Blake
Poetical Sketches, 1783 
[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

William Blake biography

Monday, September 20, 2010

Autumn Music / George J. Dance

Autumn Music

When days grow bored
with summer hues,
embracing brown
and turbid gray,
then look for love
in fallen leaves,
for love too often

George J. Dance

Fallen leaves in Hofukuji, 25 November 2006.
Photo by Reggaeman. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Creative Commons License
Autumn Music by George Dance is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cynara / Ernest Dowson

Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae

Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine
There fell thy shadow, Cynara! thy breath was shed
Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine;
And I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

All night upon mine heart I felt her warm heart beat,
Night-long within mine arms in love and sleep she lay;
Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
When I awoke and found the dawn was gray:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, all the time, because the dance was long:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I cried for madder music and for stronger wine,
But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire,
Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine;
And I am desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, hungry for the lips of my desire:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

Ernest Dowson (1867-1900)
from Verses, 1896

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Title: "I am not as good as I was under the reign of Cynara". (Horace)

Ernest Dowson biography

Notes on Copyright (2): Creative Commons

Last week I mentioned a couple of exceptions to the general rules of what may or may not be copied from The Betty Blog. This week I'd like to expand on the one that applies most often here: Creative Commons.

Creative Commons (CC) allows one to reproduce an item -- to copy someone else's copyrighted text, photos, sound or software files --  without even having to ask. CC poems, etc., are licensed, with permission to copy automatically granted subject to certain conditions (explained in more detail below).

Creative Commons poems can be recognized by the distinctive logo -- the copyright symbol, but with two C's inside the circle -- or the slogan "some rights reserved" (vs. the standard "all rights reserved") -- that they usually bear:
Creative Commons License

You may copy such a poem, even if it is by a living poet. The two poets who currently have CC-licensed poems on The Betty Blog are Ray Heinrich and George Dance. They incorporate some of the most common terms of a CC license: a copier (1) must give credit to the creator (both); or (2) may not copy for commercial purposes (Heinrich); (3) may not use the poem in a derivative work (Heinrich) or (4) if using it in that way, must license the derivative work in the same way (Dance). The explicit terms of each individual license are always given with the applicable poem.

Not all my poems bear CC licenses; but I have already licensed a dozen of them (including my translations of Heine and Rimbaud), with more (including my translations of Saint-Denys Garneau) to follow. My reasoning is simple: I want those poems to be copied so they'll reach more readers. My hope is that the more readers who become familiar with my work, the more there will be who'll want to read more of it.

There is quite a lot of CC-licensed material elsewhere on the Web, as well. Perhaps the most famous is the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. All of Wikipedia's text is licensed under CC, and those who write or even edit articles for it must agree to so license their contribution. The same foundation also maintains a free database of photographs and images, Wikimedia Commons, all of which is either public domain or CC-licensed. Anyone may use all or part of any Wikipedia article, or any Wikimedia Commons image, they like.

For instance, rather than give my own explanation of CC here, I could have simply copied in the "Creative Commons" article from Wikipedia. However, because this text is already too long, I'll content myself with giving a link instead for those who wish to learn more about CC. (Update, Feb. June 2011: Due to problems with Wikipedia, I am changing the link. Fortunately, one does not have to rely on only one source; another advantage of Creative Commons:)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Envoy / Ernest Dowson


     Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
     Love and desire and hate;
I think they have no portion in us after
                  We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses;
     Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
                  Within a dream.

Ernest Dowson (1867-1900)
Verses, 1896

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Epigraph: "The brief sum of life forbids us the hope of enduring long." (Horace)

Ernest Dowson biography

Friday, September 17, 2010

Things / Aline Kilmer


Sometimes when I am at tea with you,
     I catch my breath
At a thought that is old as the world is old
     And more bitter than death.

It is that the spoon that you just laid down
     And the cup that you hold
May be here shining and insolent
     When you are still and cold.

Your careless note that I laid away
     May leap to my eyes like flame;
When the world has almost forgotten your voice
     Or the sound of your name.

The golden Virgin da Vinci drew
     May smile on over my head,
And daffodils nod in the silver vase
     When you are dead.

So let moth and dust corrupt and thieves
     Break through and I shall be glad,
Because of the hatred I bear to things
     Instead of the love I had.

For life seems only a shuddering breath,
     A smothered, desperate cry;
And things have a terrible permanence
     When people die.

Aline Kilmer (1888-1941)
from Vigils, 1921

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

Aline Kilmer biography

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Eagle That Is Forgotten / Vachel Lindsay

The Eagle That Is Forgotten

(John P. Altgeld. Born December 30, 1847;

died March 12, 1902)

Sleep softy . . . eagle forgotten . . . under the stone,
Time has its way with you there, and the clay has its own.
“We have buried him now,” thought your foes, and in secret rejoiced.
They made a brave show of their mourning, their hatred unvoiced.
They had snarled at you, barked at you, foamed at you, day after day.
Now you were ended. They praised you, . . . and laid you away.

The others, that mourned you in silence and terror and truth,
The widow bereft of her crust, and the boy without youth,
The mocked and the scorned and the wounded, the lame and the poor,
That should have remembered forever, . . . remember no more.

Where are those lovers of yours, on what name do they call,
The lost, that in armies wept over your funeral pall?
They call on the names of a hundred high-valiant ones,
A hundred white eagles have risen, the sons of your sons.
The zeal in their wings is a zeal that your dreaming began,
The valor that wore out your soul in the service of man.

Sleep softy . . . eagle forgotten . . . under the stone,
Time has its way with you there, and the clay has its own.
Sleep on, O brave-hearted, O wise man that kindled the flame —
To live in mankind is far more than to live in a name,
To live in mankind, far, far more than to live in a name! —

Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931)
General William Booth Enters Into Heaven, and other poems, 1913

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

Vachel Lindsay biography

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sagacity / William Rose Benét


We knew so much; when her beautiful eyes could lighten,
Her beautiful laughter follow our phrase;
Or the gaze go hard with pain, the lips tighten,
On the bitterer days.
Oh, ours was all knowing then, all generous displaying.
Such wisdom we had to show!
And now there is merely silence, silence, silence saying
All we did not know.

William Rose Benét (1886-1950)
Sagacity, 1929

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

William Rose Benét biography

Monday, September 13, 2010

ground zero / shaun hull

ground zero

i seem to remember
a sunroof sky
full of kanji and silk
wisteria dancing across the wind
my daughter laughing in that so saturated face
as friend and i sit down to our morning game
i swore i would take advantage of his saki rejuvenation

i seem to remember
the taste of my wife's lips
so sweet a touch of harmony
quickly replaced by the happy wet kiss of my child
giggling so to almost annoy
this fierce competition

my new pocket watch stating
with such fine western precision
you have time to champion
it's only

i seem to remember
wind chimes singing to laughter
and graceful chatter
rising so near to cacophony
in anticipation of movement

a whirl and rash
of mans humanity

i seem to remember
a distant sound of wings
floating across an eastern sky
and eyes squinting to see

to my child suddenly
turning white

the brightest white
the hottest white
the darkest white

i shall never see

i can't seem to remember
where i left my soul

i think it's where my shadow
left a halo
burned into the ground

(shaun hull)

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

Soundclick: Shaun Hull

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Two Sonnets / Charles Hamilton Sorley

Two Sonnets


Saints have adored the lofty soul of you.
Poets have whitened at your high renown.
We stand among the many millions who
Do hourly wait to pass your pathway down.

You, so familiar, once were strange; we tried
To live as of your presence unaware.
But now in every road on every side
We see your straight and steadfast signpost there.

I think it like that signpost in my land
Hoary and tall, which pointed me to go
Upward, into the hills, on the right hand,
Where the mists swim and the winds shriek and blow,
A homeless land and friendless, but a land
I did not know and that I wished to know.


Such, such is Death: no triumph: no defeat:
Only an empty pail, a slate rubbed clean,
A merciful putting away of what has been.

And this we know: Death is not Life effete,
Life crushed, the broken pail. We who have seen
So marvelous things know well the end not yet.

Victor and vanquished are a-one in death:
Coward and brave: friend, foe. Ghosts do not say,
"Come, what was your record when you drew breath?"
But a big blot has hid each yesterday
So poor, so manifestly incomplete.
And your bright Promise, withered long and sped,
Is touched; stirs, rises, opens and grows sweet
And blossoms and is you, when you are dead.

Charles Hamilton Sorley
from Marlborough and Other Poems, 1916

[All rights reserved by the author's estate - Please do not copy]

Charles Hamilton Sorley biography

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Note on Copyright

I've been asked a few questions about the copyright tags below the poems, the most common being, '[Where/how] Did you get permission to repost that poem?" and "[Where/how] Can I get permission [etc.]?" I hope this note will help make things a bit clearer.

A copyright is a legal privilege (a 'patent' or 'monopoly') that a state grants a work's creator, giving him or her the exclusive right to allow or forbid additional copies of the work. There is no copyright recognized in either natural or common law, and until the 18th century there was none in any country's statutory law, either. (The earliest example of copyright legislation was the Statute of Anne in Britain in 1709, which protected books for a maximum of 21 years.)

Accordingly, the terms and duration of copyright vary for different countries. Through the 20th century, though, there was a large degree of standardization brought about by international treaties. Nowadays all copyrights in printed works (with a known author) last for the author's lifetime plus x number of years ("Life+x"); but there is still considerable disagreement on the value of x.

While some countries' legislation sets the copyright term as low as Life+25 years, that is superseded for those countries that signed the 1886 Berne Convention. That treaty set a minimum copyright term of Life+50, while allowing signatory states to set  longer terms. At one extreme, then, are countries like Canada (where The Betty Blog is published) that adhere to that  Life+50 minimum. Almost all the poems published on The Betty Blog are public domain in Canada and those other countries (meaning their authors died more than 51 years ago). Those poems that are copyrighted in Canada are either by me, or published with the permission of another living author. The latter are indicated by the phrase, "All rights reserved by the autho- Used with permission".

At the other extreme are Mexico (which has a term of Life+100) and Cote d'Ivoire (Life+99). If a work is copyrighted in either of those countries (but not in Canada), then it carries the tag line, "All rights reserved by the author's estate - Please do not copy." That does not mean the work is copyrighted in the country where you live, as 2010, depending on the year of an author's demise, could fall anywhere between Life+50 and Life+100 for that author.

If an author died at least 101 years ago, then the work is not at present copyrighted anywhere in the world. Such works are tagged, "Poem is in the public domain" -- meaning that anyone is free to reproduce them.

So: how do you determine if you may legally copy a "Please do not copy" poem? First, check the Poetry and Verse Archive, to find the date that the author died. (If there are no dates beside the author's name, then the author is still alive and the poem is therefore copyrighted; the one exception to that being Tom Bishop, who explicitly assigned all his "wordpiles" to the public domain.) Then, check the copyright term in your country as listed in this table. (Since the term generally runs to Dec. 31, add one year to be safe). If the years since the author died exceed the length of the copyright term, then the poem is in the public domain and you may copy it without permission.

For example: suppose you live in Australia, the U.K., or the U.S. Then the copyright term in your country is Life+70. You may copy poetry by W.B. Yeats (who died in 1939) or anyone who died before him. However, you may not copy poetry by John Gillespie Magee (who died in 1941), or anyone who outlived him, without permission from the current copyright holder.

There are exceptions --eg,  the "posthumously published" rule, the "rule of the shorter term," and "Creative Commons". The last two allow one to copy otherwise copyrighted works; so disregarding them will not put anyone in violation of the law. As for the first: To see if a poem was posthumously published, just compare the date on the poem with the death date given for the author.  So those exceptions can be set aside for now; though I intend to go into them, in particular the last, at another time.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

In September / Charles G.D. Roberts

In September

This windy, bright September afternoon
     My heart is wide awake, yet full of dreams.
     The air, alive with hushed confusion, teems
With scent of grain-fields, and a mystic rune,
Foreboding of the fall of Summer soon,
     Keeps swelling and subsiding; till there seems
     O'er all the world of valleys, hills, and streams,
Only the wind's inexplicable tune.

My heart is full of dreams, yet wide awake.
     I lie and watch the topmost tossing boughs
     Of tall elms, pale against the vaulted blue;
But even now some yellowing branches shake,
     Some hue of death the living green endows: —
     If beauty flies, fain would I vanish too.

Charles G.D. Roberts
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)

Monday, September 6, 2010

September 1918 / Amy Lowell

September 1918

This afternoon was the colour of water falling through sunlight;
The trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves;
The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves,
And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows.
Under a tree in the park,
Two little boys, lying flat on their faces,
Were carefully gathering red berries
To put in a pasteboard box.

Some day there will be no war,
Then I shall take out this afternoon
And turn it in my fingers,
And remark the sweet taste of it upon my palate,
And note the crisp variety of its flights of leaves.
To-day I can only gather it
And put it into my lunch-box,
For I have time for nothing
But the endeavour to balance myself
Upon a broken world.

Amy Lowell (1874-1925)
Pictures of the Floating World, 1919

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

Amy Lowell biography

Sunday, September 5, 2010

High Flight / John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor ever eagle flew — 
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

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

John Gillespie Magee, Jr. biography

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm / Wallace Stevens

The House Was Quiet And The World Was Calm

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), 1945
from Transport to Summer, 1947

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Friday, September 3, 2010

Adam's Curse / W.B. Yeats

Adam's Curse

We sat together at one summer's end,
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,
And you and I, and talked of poetry.
I said, "A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.
Better go down upon your marrow-bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world."
                                                            And thereupon
That beautiful mild woman for whose sake
There's many a one shall find out all heartache
On finding that her voice is sweet and low
Replied, "To be born woman is to know — 
Although they do not talk of it at school — 
That we must labour to be beautiful."
I said, "It's certain there is no fine thing
Since Adam's fall but needs much labouring.
There have been lovers who thought love should be
So much compounded of high courtesy
That they would sigh and quote with learned looks
precedents out of beautiful old books;
Yet now it seems an idle trade enough."

We sat grown quiet at the name of love;
We saw the last embers of daylight die,
And in the trembling blue-green of the sky
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell
Washed by time's waters as they rose and fell
About the stars and broke in days and years.
I had a thought for no one's but your ears:
That you were beautiful, and that I strove
To love you in the old high way of love;
That it had all seemed happy, and yet we'd grown
As weary-hearted as that hollow moon.

W.B. Yeats
from In the Seven Woods, 1904

[All rights reserved by the author's estate - Please do not copy]

W.B. Yeats biography

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Penny's Top 20 - August 2010

The 20 most-visited poems on  The Betty Blog during August, 2010, ranked in order:

1.   Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Wallace Stevens
2.   Penny (or Penny's Hat), George Dance
3.   Penny's OS 2.0, George Dance
4.   I know I am but summer to your heart, Edna St. Vincent Millay
5.   Orbison, George Dance
6.   Romance Novel, Arthur Rimbaud                                            
7.   Mars & Avril, George Dance                                                    
8.   In the Garden, George Dance                                                   
9.   Bird Cage /Cage d'oiseau, Hector de St-Denys Garneau         
10. Vowels / Voyelles, Arthur Rimbaud                                          

11. Puella Parvula, Wallace Stevens                                              
12. A Sonnet of the Moon, Charles Best                          
13. Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens             
14. Men Made Out of Words , Wallace Stevens            
15. Penny's OS, George Dance

16. The Weary Man, Crystal Matteau   
17. The Dwarf , Wallace Stevens             
18. Fuji-san, George Dance           
19. Lorelei's Song / Das Loreleylied, Heinrich Heine          
20. A Meadow in Spring, Tom Bishop

Source: The Best Links. Web. Sep. 2, 2010.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Penny's Top 20 - July 2010

The 20 most-visited poems on  The Betty Blog during July, 2010, ranked in order:

1.   Penny's OS, George Dance 
2.   Penny (or Penny's Hat), George Dance
3.   Romance Novel, Arthur Rimbaud
4.   Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Wallace Stevens
5.   Mars & Avril, George Dance
6.   The Weary Man, Crystal Matteau
7.   Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens 
8.   Vowels / Voyelles, Arthur Rimbaud
9.   Bird Cage /Cage d'oiseau, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
10. May, George Dance                                                 

11. Fuji-san, George Dance
12. The Smoker, nounofme                                            
13. The Gravedigger, Bliss Carman                                
14. In the Garden, George Dance
15. Orbison, George Dance 

16. The Whitening , James D. Senetto                             
17. Knowing, David W. Lewry                                       
18. A Sonnet of the Moon, Charles Best   
19. The May Magnificat, Gerard Manley Hopkins            
20. The Dwarf , Wallace Stevens 

Source: The Best Links. Web. Aug. 3, 2010.