Tuesday, May 31, 2011

O, Love builds on the azure sea /
Isabella Valancy Crawford

from Malcolm's Katie

O, Love builds on the azure sea,
And Love builds on the golden sand;
And Love builds on the rose-wing'd cloud.
And sometimes Love builds on the land.

O, if Love build on sparkling sea —
And if Love build on golden strand —
And if Love build on rosy cloud —
To Love these are the solid land.

O, Love will build his lily walls,
And Love his pearly roof will rear,—
On cloud or land, or mist or sea —
Love's solid land is everywhere!

Isabella Valancy Crawford
from Old Spookses' Pass, Malcolm's Katie and other poems, 1884

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Isabella Valancy Crawford (by George J. Dance) 

Monday, May 30, 2011

To Fredericton in May-Time / Charles G.D. Roberts

To Fredericton in May-Time

This morning, full of breezes and perfume,
     Brimful of promise of midsummer weather,
     When bees and birds and I are glad together,
Breathes of the full-leaved season, when soft gloom
Chequers thy streets, and thy close elms assume
     Round roof and spire the semblance of green billows;
     Yet now thy glory is the yellow willows,
The yellow willows, full of bees and bloom.
Under their dusty blossoms blackbirds meet,
     And robins pipe amid the cedars nigher;
Thro’ the still elms I hear the ferry’s beat;
     The swallows chirp about the towering spire;
The whole air pulses with its weight of sweet;
     Yet not quite satisfied is my desire!

Charles G.D. Roberts, 1881
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 J. Dance)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Poet biographies by George Dance at Wikinfo

I have been planning to write biographies of some of the poets featured on The Penny Blog for some time, and during April and May I have been doing just that. I found the perfect venue for them - Wikipedia - and over the two months I wrote (meaning I either wrote from scratch, or rewrote from the bottom up) almost 100 articles on Wikipedia, mainly on Canadian poets.

However, despite the user-friendliness of the Wikipedia medium, the friendliness of the Wikipedia community is another thing. Half a dozen of its editors objected to my including reciprocal links from the articles to the poems in The Penny Blog (calling them 'spamming' and me a 'spammer'); three or four of those began cutting those and other links out of my articles; two of those went so far as to interefere with my own posting.

Fortunately I have found a more congenial vemue: Wikinfo. Wikinfo is a smaller encyclopedia which began as a fork from Wikipedia. (Forks from Wikipedia are created when someone disagrees with one of Wikipedia's five pillars, and Jim Wales tells him to "Fork off.") Besides the difference in size -- Wikipedia is far larger and much more bureaucratic -- there are some differences in policy. The one I appreciated, for my project, was Wikinfo's policy of letting me post my biographies as signed articles, which no one can edit but me.

People are allowed to copy my articles -- Wikinfo licenses its text under Creative Commons and GNU Free Documentation licenses, like Wikipedia, but as a default rather than something compulsory as with the latter. Others may also alter the copies they make. However, no one besides me has a right to alter the signed copy at the Wikinfo site. Wikinfo users may all edit the unsigned copy of the article, one of which will be posted for each signed article.

On The Penny Blog, a link to the poet's biography (when written) will be added to that poet's poems, at the bottom of the post. You can see the format in the poems of the two poets so linked so far: Bliss Carman and Archibald Lampman. Others biographies will follow as quickly as possible. Penny and I hope that you will enjoy reading them. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

At Delos / Duncan Campbell Scott

At Delos

An iris-flower with topaz leaves
With a dark heart of deeper gold,
Died over Delos when light failed
And the night grew cold.

No wave fell mourning in the sea
Where age on age beauty had died,
For that frail colour withering away
No seabird cried.

There is no grieving in the world
As beauty fades throughout the years;
The pilgrim with the weary heart
Brings to the grave his tears.

Duncan Campbell Scott
from The Circle of Affection, 1947

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Duncan Campbell Scott (by George Dance)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How Spring Came (to the Lake Region) /
William Wilfred Campbell

How Spring Came (to the Lake Region)

No passionate cry came over the desolate places,
No answering call from iron-bound land to land;
But dawns and sunsets fell on mute, dead faces,
And noon and night death crept from strand to strand.

Till love breathed out across the wasted reaches,
And dipped in rosy dawns from desolate deeps;
And woke with mystic songs the sullen beaches,
And flamed to life the pale, mute, death-like sleeps.

Then the warm south, with amorous breath inblowing,
Breathed soft o’er breast of wrinkled lake and mere;
And faces white from scorn of the north’s snowing,
Now rosier grew to greet the kindling year.

William Wilfred Campbell
from Lake Lyrics, and other poems, 1893

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

William Wilfred Campbell biography

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Sky / Elizabeth Madox Roberts

The Sky

I saw a shadow on the ground
And heard a bluejay going by;
A shadow went across the ground,
And I looked up and saw the sky.

It hung up on the poplar tree,
But while I looked it did not stay;
It gave a tiny sort of jerk
And moved a little bit away.

And farther on and farther on
It moved and never seemed to stop.
I think it must be tied with chains
And something pulls it from the top.

Elizabeth Madox Roberts
from Under the Tree, 1922

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

Elizabeth Madox Roberts biography

Monday, May 23, 2011

Marshlands / Pauline Johnson


A thin wet sky, that yellows at the rim,
And meets with sun-lost lip the marsh's brim.

The pools low lying, dank with moss and mould,
Glint through their mildews like large cups of gold.

Among the wild rice in the still lagoon,
In monotone the lizard shrills his tune.

The wild goose, homing, seeks a sheltering,
Where rushes grow, and oozing lichens cling.

Late cranes with heavy wing, and lazy flight,
Sail up the silence with the nearing night.

And like a spirit, swathed in some soft veil,
Steals twilight and its shadows o'er the swale.

Hushed lie the sedges, and the vapours creep,
Thick, grey and humid, while the marshes sleep.
Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) (1861-1913)
from The White Wampum, 1895

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Sunday, May 22, 2011

So, we'll go no more a-roving /
George Gordon, Lord Byron

So, we'll go no more a-roving

So, we'll go no more a-roving
     So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
     And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
     And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
     And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
     And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a-roving
     By the light of the moon.

George Gordon (Lord Byron), 1817
from Letters and Journals of Lord Byron, 1830

[Poem is in the public domain]

Lord Byron biography

Saturday, May 21, 2011

By the Pacific Ocean / Joaquin Miller

By the Pacific Ocean

Here room and kingly silence keep
Companionship in state austere;
The dignity of death is here,
The large, lone vastness of the deep;
Here toil has pitched his camp to rest:
The west is banked against the west.

Above yon gleaming skies of gold
One lone imperial peak is seen;
While gathered at his feet in green
Ten thousand foresters are told:
And all so still! so still the air
That duty drops the web of care.

Beneath the sunset’s golden sheaves
The awful deep walks with the deep,
Where silent sea doves slip and sweep,
And commerce keeps her loom and weaves
The dead red men refuse to rest;
Their ghosts illume my lurid West.

Joaquin Miller
from Pacific Poems, 1871

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Joaquin Miller biography

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May / Christina Rossetti


I cannot tell you how it was,
But this I know: it came to pass
Upon a bright and sunny day
When May was young; ah, pleasant May!
As yet the poppies were not born
Between the blades of tender corn;
The last egg had not hatched as yet,
Nor any bird foregone its mate.

I cannot tell you what it was,
But this I know: it did but pass.
It passed away with sunny May,
Like all sweet things it passed away,
And left me old, and cold, and gray.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
from Goblin Market, The Prince's Progress, and other poems, 1879.

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide.]

Christina Rossetti biography

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Rabbit / Camilla Doyle

The Rabbit

All day this spring – the first he's known –
He lets himself be sideways blown
When the wind comes; he'll leap and pounce,
And try to rush two ways at once,
On feet that catch the very sound
Cascades make spattering to the ground.
   Though men with difficulty sing how soon
      They die, how seldom living they can thrive,
   He makes a little dancing-tune
      By only being alive;
No leaf that April winds blow off the tree
Falls and leaps round again so gay as he.

Camilla Doyle (1888-1944)
from Poems, 1923

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Camilla Doyle biography

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Flying Over / Theodore Goodridge Roberts

Flying Over

Pacing an endless city street,
     I heard a sound from the upper air —
Vibrant, mystic, quick with life
     And sad with longing — of wings astir.

I raised my glance past the midnight lamps,
     To catch a shadow of that high flight
Of birds in the starshine breasting north,
     Homebound, cleaving the April night;

And my heart went, too, with my eyes’ rapt gaze,
To join the geese in the starry ways.

Theodore Goodridge Roberts
from The Leather Bottle, 1934

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Theodore Goodridge Roberts (by George Dance)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spring Flight / Theodore Goodridge Roberts

Spring Flight

Is it the voice of the open waters
     Calling the grey geese home from the South?
Do they hear the freshet under the willows
     And the grinding logs at the river’s mouth?

How do they know the lakes are open?
     Do they scent the maple buds bursting red?
Who has whispered them word of April?
     Who has told them that Winter’s dead?

Strong wings athrill,
Brave hearts astir,
They come, and the stars
Are high and chill,
And the frosty air
Is alive, aware
Of the whisp’ring wings.

Sure, unafraid,
Swift, undismayed,
Where the Northern Light flings
His cloak, they fly
And honk and pass
Under the sky.

My heart flies too
Fearlessly forth
With that feathery crew
To the North.

Up and away —
As their wings aspire —
I sail to the land of my heart’s desire.

With scent of alders and swollen waters
     And the flooded bar at the river’s mouth
Spring, awake in our Nashwaak valley,
     Calls her exiles home from the South.

Theodore Goodridge Roberts, 1901
from The Leather Bottle, 1934 

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

Theodore Goodridge Roberts (by George Dance)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spring Night / Sara Teasdale

Spring Night

The park is filled with night and fog,
     The veils are drawn about the world,
The drowsy lights along the paths
     Are dim and pearled.

Gold and gleaming the empty streets,
     Gold and gleaming the misty lake,
The mirrored lights like sunken swords,
     Glimmer and shake.

Oh, is it not enought to be
Here with this beauty over me?
My throat should ache with praise, and I
Should kneel in joy beneath the sky.
O, Beauty are you not enough?
Why am I crying after love,
With youth, a singing voice and eyes
To take earth's wonder with surprise?
Why have I put off my pride,
Why am I unsatisfied,
I for whom the pensive night
Binds her cloudy hair with light,
I, for whom all beauty burns
Like incense in a million urns?
O, Beauty, are you not enough?
Why am I crying after love?

Sara Teasdale
from Love Songs, 1917

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

Sara Teasdale biography

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Memory / Francis Sherman

A Memory

You are not with me though the Spring is here!
And yet it seemed to-day as if the Spring
Were the same one that in an ancient year
Came suddenly upon our wandering.

You must remember all that chanced that day.
Can you forget the shy awaking call
Of the first robin?— And the foolish way
The squirrel ran along the low stone wall?

The half-retreating sound of water breaking,
Hushing, falling; while the pine-laden breeze
Told us the tumult many crows were making
Amid innumerable distant trees;

The certain presence of the birth of things
Around, above, beneath us,— everywhere;
The soft return of immemorial Springs
Thrilling with life the fragrant forest air;

All these were with us then. Can you forget?
Or must you — even as I — remember well?
To-day, all these were with me, there,— and yet
They seemed to have some bitter thing to tell;

They looked with questioning eyes, and seemed to wait
One’s doubtful coming whom of old they knew;
Till, seeing me alone and desolate,
They learned how vain was strong desire of you.

Francis Sherman
from Matins, 1896

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

Francis Sherman (by George Dance)

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Road Song in May / Francis Sherman

A Road Song in May

O come! Is it not surely May?
The year is at its poise today.
Northward, I hear the distant beat
Of Spring’s irrevocable feet;
Tomorrow June will have her way.

O tawny waters, flecked with sun,
Come; for your labors all are done.
The gray snow fadeth from the hills;
And toward the sound of waking mills
Swing the brown rafts in, one by one.

O bees among the willow-blooms,
Forget your empty waxen rooms
Awhile, and share our golden hours!
Will they not come, the later flowers,
With their old colors and perfumes?

O wind that bloweth from the west,
Is not this morning road the best?
— Let us go hand in hand, as free
And glad as little children be
That follow some long-dreamed-of quest!

Francis Sherman
From Canadian Calendar: XII Lyrics, 1900

[All rights reserved by the author's estate - Please do not copy]
Francis Sherman (by George Dance)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May in the Selkirks / Bliss Carman

May in the Selkirks

Up the Illecillewat and down the yellow Beaver,
Over skyward passes where snow-peaks touch the blue.
Shining silver rivers dropping down from Heaven,
With the spring-call of the wilderness waking spring anew.

Far gleaming glaciers like the gates of glory,
And the hosts in new green marching up the slopes,
Organ-voiced torrents singing through the gorges,
Songs for the high trail and visions for our hopes.

Hints of light supernal on the rocky ledges,
Echoes of wild music from the valley floors,
And the tall evergreens watching the threshhold,
Keeping the silence of the Lord of out-of-doors.

Balm out of Paradise blown across the canyons
From the balsam-poplar buds and bronze leafs uncurled....
Soul in her wonder lifts the new Magnificat,
Alight with the rapture of the morning of the world.

Bliss Carman

[Poem is in the publid comain in Canada and the European Union]

Bliss Carman (by George J. Dance)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

To the Birds / Peter McArthur

To the Birds

How dare you sing such cheerful notes?
You show a woeful lack of taste;
How dare you pour from happy throats
Such merry songs with raptured haste,
While all our poets wail and weep,
And readers sob themselves to sleep?

'Tis clear to me, you've never read
The turgid tomes that Ibsen writes,
Or mourned with Tolstoi virtue dead,
Nor over Howells pored o' nights;
For you are glad with all your power;
For shame! Go study Schopenhauer.

You never sing save when you feel
The ecstasy of thoughtless joy;
All silent through the boughs you steal
When storms or fears or pains annoy;
With bards 'tis quite a different thing,
The more they ache the more they sing.

All happiness they sadly shirk,
And from all pleasure hold aloof,
And are so tearful when they work
They write on paper waterproof,
And on each page express a yearn
To fill a cinerary urn.

Go, little birds, it gives me pain
To hear your happy melodies!
My plaudits you can never gain
With old and worn-out tunes like these;
More up-to-date your songs must be
Ere you can merit praise from me.

Peter McArthur
from The Prodigal and Other Poems,1907

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

Peter McArthur biography

Monday, May 9, 2011

Love is not all / Edna St. Vincent Millay


Love is not all: It is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain,
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
and rise and sink and rise and sink again.
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
pinned down by need and moaning for release
or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It may well be. I do not think I would.

Edna St Vincent Millay (1892-1930)
from Fatal Interview, 1931

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Edna St. Vincent Millay biography

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rain After a Vaudeville Show /
Stephen Vincent Benét

Rain After a Vaudeville Show

The last pose flickered, failed. The screen's dead white
Glared in a sudden flooding of harsh light
Stabbing the eyes; and as I stumbled out
The curtain rose. A fat girl with a pout
And legs like hams, began to sing "His Mother".
Gusts of bad air rose in a choking smother;
Smoke, the wet steam of clothes, the stench of plush,
Powder, cheap perfume, mingled in a rush.
I stepped into the lobby  — and stood still
Struck dumb by sudden beauty, body and will.
Cleanness and rapture — excellence made plain —
The storming, thrashing arrows of the rain!
Pouring and dripping on the roofs and rods,
Smelling of woods and hills and fresh-turned sods,
Black on the sidewalks, gray in the far sky,
Crashing on thirsty panes, on gutters dry,
Hurrying the crowd to shelter, making fair
The streets, the houses, and the heat-soaked air, —
Merciful, holy, charging, sweeping, flashing,
It smote the soul with a most iron clashing! . . .
Like dragons' eyes the street-lamps suddenly gleamed,
Yellow and round and dim-low globes of flame.
And, scarce-perceived, the clouds' tall banners streamed.
Out of the petty wars, the daily shame,
Beauty strove suddenly, and rose, and flowered. . . .
I gripped my coat and plunged where awnings lowered.
Made one with hissing blackness, caught, embraced,
By splendor and by striving and swift haste —
Spring coming in with thunderings and strife —
I stamped the ground in the strong joy of life!

Stephen Vincent Benét
from Young Adventure: A book of poems, 1918

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

Stephen Vincent Benét biography

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Like Rain it sounded till it curved / Emily Dickinson

Like Rain it sounded till it curved
And then I knew 'twas Wind —
It walked as wet as any Wave
But swept as dry as sand —
When it had pushed itself away
To some remotest Plain
A coming as of Hosts was heard
That was indeed the Rain —
It filled the Wells, it pleased the Pools
It warbled in the Road —
It pulled the spigot from the Hills
And let the Floods abroad —
It loosened acres, lifted seas
The sites of Centres stirred
Then like Elijah rode away
Upon a Wheel of Cloud.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Emily Dickinson biography

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Rainy Day in April / Francis Ledwidge

A Rainy Day in April

When the clouds shake their hyssops, and the rain
Like holy water falls upon the plain,
'Tis sweet to gaze upon the springing grain
And see your harvest born.

And sweet the little breeze of melody
The blackbird puffs upon the budding tree,
While the wild poppy lights upon the lea
And blazes 'mid the corn.

The skylark soars the freshening shower to hail,
And the meek daisy holds aloft her pail.
And Spring all radiant by the wayside pale
Sets up her rock and reel.

See how she weaves her mantle fold on fold,
Hemming the woods and carpeting the wold.
Her warp is of the green, her woof the gold,
The spinning world her wheel.

Francis Ledwidge
from Songs of the Fields, 1914

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

Francis Ledwidge biography

Thursday, May 5, 2011

After Rain / Archibald Lampman

After Rain

For three whole days across the sky,
In sullen packs that loomed and broke,
With flying fringes dim as smoke,
The columns of the rain went by;
At every hour the wind awoke;
The darkness passed upon the plain;
The great drops rattled at the pane.

Now piped the wind, or far aloof
Fell to a sough remote and dull;
And all night long with rush and lull
The rain kept drumming on the roof:
I heard till ear and sense were full
The clash or silence of the leaves,
The gurgle in the creaking eaves.

But when the fourth day came  – at noon,
The darkness and the rain were by;
The sunward roofs were steaming dry;
And all the world was flecked and strewn
With shadows from a fleecy sky.
The haymakers were forth and gone,
And every rillet laughed and shone.

Then, too, on me that loved so well
The world, despairing in her blight,
Uplifted with her least delight,
On me, as on the earth, there fell
New happiness of mirth and might;
I strode the valleys pied and still;
I climbed upon the breezy hill.

I watched the gray hawk wheel and drop,
Sole shadow on the shining world;
I saw the mountains clothed and curled,
With forest ruffling to the top;
I saw the river's length unfurled,
Pale silver down the fruited plain,
Grown great and stately with the rain.

Through miles of shadow and soft heat,
Where field and fallow, fence and tree,
Were all one world of greenery,
I heard the robin ringing sweet,
The sparrow piping silverly,
The thrushes at the forest's hem;
And as I went I sang with them.

Archibald Lampman
From Lyrics of Earth, 1895

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Archibald Lampman (by George J. Dance)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Penny's Top 20 - April 2011

The 20 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during April 2011:

  1. Red Lipped Stranger, Will Dockery
  2. Lorelei's Song, Heinrich Heine
  3. Daily News, George Dance
  4. Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Wallace Stevens
  5. Angel's Song, Hieronymous 707

  6. Mars & Avril, George Dance
  7. Lucky Penny, George Dance
  9. Songs, Demonspawn

11. Wheat Field Concerts, James D. Senetto
12. how far away it was, Ray Heinrich
13. The Bridge at Flatline, Adam Lynn
14. Orbits, Adam Lynn
15. Puella Parvula, Wallace Stevens

16. 8-8. David Rutkowski
18. The Day Charles Bukowski Died, Gary Frankfurth
19. Spleen, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
20. The Great Matter, Obsidian Eagle

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Penny's Top 20 - March 2011

The 20 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during March 2011:

  1.  Mars & Avril, George Dance
  2.  Penny (or Penny's Hat) , George Dance
  3.  Spring Scene / Chūn Wàng, Tu Fu
  4.  The Playing / Le Jeu, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
  5.  A light exists in Spring, Emily Dickinson

  6.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  7.  Vowels / Voyelles, Arthur Rimbaud
  8.  Petit the Poet, Edgar Lee Masters
  9.  March, George Dance
10. Romance Novel, Arthur Rimbaud

11.  Winter Uplands, Archibald Lampman
12.  Not Ideas About the Thing but the Thing Itself, Wallace Stevens
13.  On the Grasshopper and Cricket, John Keats
14.  Winter Nightfall, Robert Bridges
15.  Men Made Out of Words, Wallace Stevens

16.  Departure, Edna St. Vincent Millay
17.  Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Wallace Stevens
18.  The Skaters, John Gould Fletcher
19.  Icicle Drops, Arthur J. Lockhart
20. I Am Not Yours, Sara Teasdale

Based on Blogger "Stats".