Monday, December 31, 2012

The Death of the Old Year / Alfred Tennyson

The Death of the Old Year

Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
And the winter winds are wearily sighing:
Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,
And tread softly and speak low,
For the old year lies a-dying.
       Old year you must not die;
       You came to us so readily,
       You lived with us so steadily,
       Old year you shall not die.

He lieth still: he doth not move:
He will not see the dawn of day.
He hath no other life above.
He gave me a friend and a true truelove
And the New-year will take 'em away.
       Old year you must not go;
       So long you have been with us,
       Such joy as you have seen with us,
       Old year, you shall not go.

He froth'd his bumpers to the brim;
A jollier year we shall not see.
But tho' his eyes are waxing dim,
And tho' his foes speak ill of him,
He was a friend to me.
       Old year, you shall not die;
       We did so laugh and cry with you,
       I've half a mind to die with you,
       Old year, if you must die.

He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o'er.
To see him die across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he'll be dead before.
       Every one for his own.
       The night is starry and cold, my friend,
       And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,
       Comes up to take his own.

How hard he breathes! over the snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro:
The cricket chirps: the light burns low:
'Tis nearly twelve o'clock.
       Shake hands, before you die.
       Old year, we'll dearly rue for you:
       What is it we can do for you?
       Speak out before you die.

His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone,
Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
       And waiteth at the door.
       There's a new foot on the floor, my friend,
       And a new face at the door, my friend,
       A new face at the door.

Alfred Tennyson
from Poems, 1842

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Alfred Tennyson biography

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas / Sophie Jewett


The Christmas bells ring discord overhead;
The angel-song fell silent long ago;
Nor seer, nor silly shepherd comes, star-led,
To kneel to-night beside a baby’s bed.
Peace is not yet, and wrong and want and woe
Cry in the city streets, and love is slow,
And sin is sleek and swift and housed and fed.

Dear Lord, our faith is faint, our hearts are sore;
Our prayers are as complaints, our songs as cries;
Fain would we hear the angel-voice once more,
And see the Star still lead along the skies;
Fain would, like sage and simple folk of yore,
Watch where the Christ-child smiles in Mary’s eyes.

Sophie Jewett, 1893
from The Poems of Sophie Jewett, 1910

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Sophie Jewett biography

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Sonnet / E.A. Woodward

Christmas Sonnet

The star that marked the birthplace of our King
Shone bright above that Bethlehem manger bed,
And by its gleams wise shepherds' feet were led
To pay him homage, and their treasures bring.
Now, to this star the world's great nations cling,
Revere the power that raised him from the dead,
With wreathes of love still crown that sacred head,
And waft to heaven the song which angels sing.
This song of "Peace on earth, good will t'ward men,"
Has charmed the vistas of earth's noblest thought;
Still guides the hand that wields immortal pen,
And crowns him king, who man's redemption bought –
Whose tireless feet o'er hill and valley's glen,
From heaven to earth a priceless message brought.

E.A. Woodward
from Sonnets and Acrostics, 1916

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

E.A. Woodward biography

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Christmas Carol / George Wither

A Christmas Carol

So now is come our joyful feast,
  Let every man be jolly;
Each room with ivy leaves is dressed,
  And every post with holly.
     Though some churls at our mirth repine,
     Round your foreheads garlands twine,
     Drown sorrow in a cup of wine,
  And let us all be merry.

Now all our neighbors' chimnies smoke,
  And Christmas blocks are burning;
Their ovens they with baked meats choke,
  And all their spits are turning.
     Without the door let sorrow lie,
     And if for cold it hap to die,
     We'll bury it in a Christmas pie,
  And evermore be merry.

Now every lad is wondrous trim,
  And no man minds his labor;
Our lasses have provided them
  A bagpipe and a tabor.
     Young men and maids, and girls and boys,
     Give life to one another's joys;
     And you anon shall by their noise
  Perceive that they are merry.

Rank misers now do sparing shun,
  Their hall of music soundeth;
And dogs thence with whole shoulders run,
  So all things aboundeth.
     The country-folk themselves advance,
     For crowdy-mutton's come out of France;
     And Jack shall pipe and Jill shall dance,
  And all the town be merry.

Ned Swatch hath fetched his bands from pawn,
  And all his best apparel;
Brisk Nell hath bought a ruff of lawn
  With droppings of the barrel.
     And those that hardly all the year
     Had bread to eat or rags to wear,
     Will have both clothes and dainty fare,
  And all the day be merry.

Now poor men to the justices
  With capons make their errands;
And if they hap to fail of these,
They plague them with their warrants.
     But now they feed them with good cheer,
     And what they want they take in beer,
     For Christmas comes but once a year,
And then they shall be merry.

Good farmers in the country nurse
  The poor, that else were undone;
Some landlords spend their money worse,
  On lust and pride at London.
     There the roisters they do play,
     Drab and dice their land away,
     Which may be ours another day;
  And therefore let's be merry.

The client now his suit forbears,
  The prisoner's heart is eased;
The debtor drinks away his cares,
  And for the time is pleased.
     Though others' purses be more fat,
     Why should we pine or grieve at that;
     Hang sorrow, care will kill a cat,
  And therefore let's be merry.

Hark how the wags abroad do call
  Each other forth to rambling;
Anon you'll see them in the hall,
  For nuts and apples scrambling;
     Hark how the roofs with laughters sound,
     Anon they'll think the house goes round;
     For they the cellar's depths have found,
  And there they will be merry.

The wenches with their wassail-bowls
  About the streets are singing;
The boys are come to catch the owls,
  The wild mare in is bringing.
     Our kitchen boy hath broke his box,
     And to the dealing of the ox
     Our honest neighbors come by flocks,
  And here they will be merry.

Now kings and queens poor sheep-cotes have,
  And mate with everybody;
The honest now may play the knave,
  And wise men play at noddy.
     Some youths will now a mumming go,
     Some others play at rowland-hoe,
     And twenty other gameboys moe;
  Because they will be merry.

Then wherefore in these merry days
  Should we, I pray, be duller?
No, let us sing some roundelays
  To make our mirth the fuller.
     And whilst we thus inspired sing,
     Let all the streets with echoes ring;
     Woods, and hills, and everything
  Bear witness we are merry.

George Wither
from Fair-virtue, the Mistress of Philarete, 1622

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

George Wither biography

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Mahogany Tree / William Makepeace Thackeray

The Mahogany Tree 

Christmas is here;
Winds whistle shrill,
Icy and chill,
Little care we;
Little we fear
Weather without,
Shelter'd about
The Mahogany Tree.

Once on the boughs
Birds of rare plume
Sang, in its bloom;
Night birds are we;
Here we carouse,
Singing, like them,
Perch'd round the stem
Of the jolly old tree.

Here let us sport,
Boys, as we sit—
Laughter and wit
Flashing so free.
Life is but short—
When we are gone,
Let them sing on,
Round the old tree.

Evenings we knew,
Happy as this;
Faces we miss,
Pleasant to see.
Kind hearts and true,
Gentle and just,
Peace to your dust!
We sing round the tree.

Care, like a dun,
Lurks at the gate:
Let the dog wait;
Happy we 'll be!
Drink every one;
Pile up the coals,
Fill the red bowls,
Round the old tree.

Drain we the cup.—
Friend, art afraid?
Spirits are laid
In the Red Sea.
Mantle it up;
Empty it yet;
Let us forget,
Round the old tree.

Sorrows, begone!
Life and its ills,
Duns and their bills,
Bid we to flee.
Come with the dawn,
Blue-devil sprite,
Leave us to-night,
Round the old tree.

William Makepeace Thackeray
from The Complete Poems of W.M. Thackeray, 1883

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

William Makepeace Thackeray biography

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve / Edgar Guest

Christmas Eve

Tomorrow morn she'll wake to see
The trinkets on her Christmas tree,
And find beside her little bed,
Where tenderly and soft of tread
Old Santa Claus has walked to leave
The toys that she might still believe.

Her stocking by the chimney place
Gives to the room a touch of grace
More beautiful than works of art
And velvet draperies can impart.
Here is a symbol of a trust
Richer than wisdom thick with dust.

I see it through the half swung door,
And smile to think long years before
I, too, on Christmas Eve was young
And eagerly a stocking hung
Beside the chimney just as she,
Ere knowledge stole my faith from me.

Upstairs about her bed there seems
The peace of childhood's lovely dreams,
And I, grown old, almost forget
The truths with which I am beset.
Upon this blessed Christmas Eve
I, too, in Santa Claus believe.

Edgar Guest

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Edgar Guest biography

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas (I) / George Herbert


After all pleasures as I rid one day,
My horse and I, both tired, body and mind,
With full cry of affections, quite astray;
I took up the next inn I could find.

There when I came, whom found I but my dear,
My dearest Lord, expecting till the grief
Of pleasures brought me to Him, ready there
To be all passengers' most sweet relief?

Oh Thou, whose glorious, yet contracted light,
Wrapt in night's mantle, stole into a manger;
Since my dark soul and brutish is Thy right,
To man of all beasts be not Thou a stranger:

Furnish and deck my soul, that Thou mayst have
A better lodging, than a rack, or grave.

George Herbert
from The Temple, 1633

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

George Herbert biography

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas (II) / George Herbert


The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?
      My God, no hymn for Thee?
My soul's a shepherd too; a flock it feeds
      Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.
The pasture is Thy word: the streams, Thy grace
      Enriching all the place.
Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers
      Outsing the daylight hours.
Then will we chide the sun for letting night
      Take up his place and right:
We sing one common Lord; wherefore he should
      Himself the candle hold.
I will go searching, till I find a sun
      Shall stay, till we have done;
A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly,
      As frost-nipped suns look sadly.
Then will we sing, and shine all our own day,
      And one another pay:
His beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine,
Till ev'n His beams sing, and my music shine.

George Herbert
from The Temple, 1633

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

George Herbert biography

Sunday, December 16, 2012

To Winter / Robert Southey

To Winter

A wrinkled crabbed man they picture thee,
Old Winter, with a rugged beard as grey
As the long moss upon the apple-tree;
Blue-lipt, an icedrop at thy sharp blue nose,
Close muffled up, and on thy dreary way
Plodding alone through sleet and drifting snows.
They should have drawn thee by the high-heapt hearth,
Old Winter! seated in thy great armed chair,
Watching the children at their Christmas mirth;
Or circled by them as thy lips declare
Some merry jest, or tale of murder dire,
Or troubled spirit that disturbs the night,
Pausing at times to rouse the mouldering fire,
Or taste the old October brown and bright.

Robert Southey, 1799

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Robert Southey biography

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Christmas-Cake / Helen Maria Williams

To Mrs K____, On Her Sending Me 
an English Christmas Plum-Cake at Paris

What crowding thoughts around me wake,
What marvels in a Christmas-cake!
Ah say, what strange enchantment dwells
Enclosed within its odorous cells?
Is there no small magician bound
Encrusted in its snowy round?
For magic surely lurks in this,
A cake that tells of vanished bliss;
A cake that conjures up to view
The early scenes, when life was new;
When memory knew no sorrows past,
And hope believed in joys that last! —
Mysterious cake, whose folds contain
Life’s calendar of bliss and pain;
That speaks of friends for ever fled,
And wakes the tears I love to shed.
Oft shall I breathe her cherished name
From whose fair hand the offering came:
For she recalls the artless smile
Of nymphs that deck my native isle;
Of beauty that we love to trace,
Allied with tender, modest grace;
Of those who, while abroad they roam,
Retain each charm that gladdens home,
And whose dear friendships can impart
A Christmas banquet for the heart!

Helen Maria Williams (1762-1827)
from Poems on Various Subjects, 1823

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Maria Williams biography

Sunday, December 9, 2012

December / Stuart Livingston


The woods that summer loved are grey and bare;
The sombre trees stretch up their arms on high,
In mute appeal, against the leaden sky;
A flurry faint of snow is in the air.
All day the clouds have hung in heavy fold
Above the valley, where grey shadows steal;
And I, who sit and watch them, seem to feel
A touch of sadness as the day grows old.
But o'er my fancy comes a tender face,
A dream of curls that float like sunlight golden,
A subtle fragrance, filling all the place,
The whisper of a story that is olden
Till breaks the sun through dull December skies,
And all the world is springtime in the deep blue of her eyes.

Stuart Livingston
from In Various Moods, 1894

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

Stuart Livingston biography

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The sun that brief December day /
John Greenleaf Whittier

The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
    A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
    The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east: we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air.
Meanwhile we did your nightly chores,--
Brought in the wood from out of doors,
Littered the stalls, and from the mows
Raked down the herd's-grass for the cows;
Heard the horse whinnying for his corn;
And, sharply clashing horn on horn,
Impatient down the stanchion rows
The cattle shake their walnut bows;
While, peering from his early perch
Upon the scaffold's pole of birch,
The cock his crested helmet bent
And down his querulous challenge sent.

John Greenleaf Whitter (1807-1892)
from Snowbound: A Winter Idyl, 1866

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Greenleaf Whitter biography

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hendecasyllabics / Algernon Swinburne


In the month of the long decline of roses
I, beholding the summer dead before me,
Set my face to the sea and journeyed silent,
Gazing eagerly where above the sea-mark
Flame as fierce as the fervid eyes of lions
Half divided the eyelids of the sunset;
Till I heard as it were a noise of waters
Moving tremulous under feet of angels
Multitudinous, out of all the heavens;
Knew the fluttering wind, the fluttered foliage,
Shaken fitfully, full of sound and shadow;
And saw, trodden upon by noiseless angels,
Long mysterious reaches fed with moonlight,
Sweet sad straits in a soft subsiding channel,
Blown about by the lips of winds I knew not,
Winds not born in the north nor any quarter,
Winds not warm with the south nor any sunshine;
Heard between them a voice of exultation,
"Lo, the summer is dead, the sun is faded,
Even like as a leaf the year is withered,
All the fruits of the day from all her branches
Gathered, neither is any left to gather.
All the flowers are dead, the tender blossoms,
All are taken away; the season wasted,
Like an ember among the fallen ashes.
Now with light of the winter days, with moonlight,
Light of snow, and the bitter light of hoarfrost,
We bring flowers that fade not after autumn,
Pale white chaplets and crowns of latter seasons,
Fair false leaves (but the summer leaves were falser),
Woven under the eyes of stars and planets
When low light was upon the windy reaches
Where the flower of foam was blown, a lily
Dropt among the sonorous fruitless furrows
And green fields of the sea that make no pasture:
Since the winter begins, the weeping winter,
All whose flowers are tears, and round his temples
Iron blossom of frost is bound for ever."

Algernon Charles Swinburne
from Poems and Ballads, 1866

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December / Helen Hunt Jackson


The lakes of ice gleam bluer than the lakes
Of water 'neath the summer sunshine gleamed:
Far fairer than when placidly it streamed,
The brook its frozen architecture makes,
And under bridges white its swift way takes.
Snow comes and goes as messenger who dreamed
Might linger on the road; or one who deemed
His message hostile gently for their sakes
Who listened might reveal it by degrees.
We gird against the cold of winter wind
Our loins now with mighty bands of sleep,
In longest, darkest nights take rest and ease,
And every shortening day, as shadows creep
O'er the brief noontide, fresh surprises find.

Helen Hunt Jackson 
from A Calendar of Sonnets, 1891 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography

Penny's Top 20 - November 2012

Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in November  2012:

  1.  Chaos in Motion and Not in Motion, Wallace Stevens
  2.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  3.  Penny (or Penny's Hat), George Dance
  4.  Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens
  5.  That time of year thou mayst in me behold, William Shakespeare
  6.  The Anxious Dead, John McCrae
A City Sunset, T.E. Hulme
Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
  9.  Autumn Rain, D.H. Lawrence

Men Made Out of Words, Wallace Stevens

11.  The March of the Dead, Robert W. Service

12.  I Speak Your Name, Sophie Jewett
13.  The Garden, Sara Teasdale
14.  In the Hand of the Wind, Theodore Goodridge Roberts

15.  Autumn, Thomas Nashe

16.  November, Helen Hunt Jackson

17.  Accompaniment / Accompagnement, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau

18.  Vowels / Voyelles, Arthur Rimbaud

19.  Cherry Ripe, Robert Herrick

The Reader, Wallace Stevens

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

In the Hand of the Wind /
Theodore Goodridge Roberts

In the Hand of the Wind

          “Lord, I am passing in the hand of the wind.”

Lord, I am passing in the wind’s lean hand:
    And now, of all my glory what will stand? –
The echo of a love song, like thin smoke
    Blown down the valleys of a kindly land.          

O green walled gardens, I have loved you so!
    Take no heed of the passing when I go.
The wind that spilled your roses yesterday
    Blows sharp upon me, heralding the snow:          

The wind that blew the yellow buds to bloom,                
    And filled with dancing gold our vine-girt room        
Where I have sung of summer and delight,
    Sings now of silence and the roses’ doom:          

The wind that kissed us yesterday, to-day
    Blows sharp upon me with a breath of clay,          
Blows cold across the vineyards in the sun
    And stills the flutter of the leaves at play.          

Lord, I am passing in the wind’s lean hand!
    And now of all my glory, what will stand?
A whisper in the vines along the wall,                
    As of a lost song in a haunted land.

Theodore Goodridge Roberts (1877-1953), 1902
from The Leather Bottle, 1934

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

Theodore Goodridge Roberts biography

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I Speak Your Name / Sophie Jewett

I Speak Your Name

I speak your name in alien ways, while yet
November smiles from under lashes wet.
     In the November light I see you stand
     Who love the fading woods and withered land,
Where Peace may walk, and Death, but not Regret.

The year is slow to alter or forget;
June’s glow and autumn’s tenderness are met,
     Across the months by this swift sunlight spanned.
          I speak your name.

Because I loved your golden hair, God set
His sea between our eyes. I may not fret,
     For, sure and strong, to meet my soul’s demand,
     Comes your soul’s truth. more near than hand in hand;
And low to God, who listens, Margaret,
          I speak your name.

Sophie Jewett
from The Poems of Sophie Jewett, 1910

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Sophie Jewett biography

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November / Helen Hunt Jackson


This is the treacherous month when autumn days
With summer's voice come bearing summer's gifts.
Beguiled, the pale down-trodden aster lifts
Her head and blooms again. The soft, warm haze
Makes moist once more the sere and dusty ways,
And, creeping through where dead leaves lie in drifts,
The violet returns. Snow noiseless sifts
Ere night, an icy shroud, which morning's rays
Will idly shine upon and slowly melt,
Too late to bid the violet live again.
The treachery, at last, too late, is plain;
Bare are the places where the sweet flowers dwelt.
What joy sufficient hath November felt?
What profit from the violet's day of pain?

Helen Hunt Jackson 
from A Calendar of Sonnets, 1891 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Autumn / Thomas Nashe


Autumn hath all the summer's fruitful treasure;
Gone is our sport, fled is poor Croydon's pleasure.
Short days, sharp days, long nights come on apace,–
Ah, who shall hide us from the winter's face?
Cold doth increase, the sickness will not cease,
And here we lie, God knows, with little ease.
From winter, plague, and pestilence, good Lord deliver us!

London doth mourn, Lambeth is quite forlorn;
Trades cry, Woe worth that ever they were born.
The want of term is town and city's harm;
Close chambers we do want to keep us warm.
Long banished must we live from our friends;
This low-built house will bring us to our ends.
From winter, plague, and pestilence, good Lord deliver us!

Thomas Nashe
from Summer's Last Will and Testament, 1600

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Thomas Nashe biography
Summer's Last Will and Testament

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The March of the Dead / Robert W. Service

The March of the Dead 

The cruel war was over – oh, the triumph was so sweet!
We watched the troops returning, through our tears;
There was triumph, triumph, triumph down the scarlet glittering street,
And you scarce could hear the music for the cheers.
And you scarce could see the house-tops for the flags that flew between;
The bells were pealing madly to the sky;
And everyone was shouting for the Soldiers of the Queen,
And the glory of an age was passing by.

And then there came a shadow, swift and sudden, dark and drear;
The bells were silent, not an echo stirred.
The flags were drooping sullenly, the men forgot to cheer;
We waited, and we never spoke a word.
The sky grew darker, darker, till from out the gloomy rack
There came a voice that checked the heart with dread:
"Tear down, tear down your bunting now, and hang up sable black;
They are coming – it's the Army of the Dead."

They were coming, they were coming, gaunt and ghastly, sad and slow;
They were coming, all the crimson wrecks of pride;
With faces seared, and cheeks red smeared, and haunting eyes of woe,
And clotted holes the khaki couldn't hide.
Oh, the clammy brow of anguish! the livid, foam-flecked lips!
The reeling ranks of ruin swept along!
The limb that trailed, the hand that failed, the bloody finger tips!
And oh, the dreary rhythm of their song!

"They left us on the veldt-side, but we felt we couldn't stop
On this, our England's crowning festal day;
We're the men of Magersfontein, we're the men of Spion Kop,
Colenso – we're the men who had to pay.
We're the men who paid the blood-price. Shall the grave be all our gain?
You owe us. Long and heavy is the score.
Then cheer us for our glory now, and cheer us for our pain,
And cheer us as ye never cheered before."

The folks were white and stricken, and each tongue seemed weighed with lead;
Each heart was clutched in hollow hand of ice;
And every eye was staring at the horror of the dead,
The pity of the men who paid the price.
They were come, were come to mock us, in the first flush of our peace;
Through writhing lips their teeth were all agleam;
They were coming in their thousands – oh, would they never cease!
I closed my eyes, and then – it was a dream.

There was triumph, triumph, triumph down the scarlet gleaming street;
The town was mad; a man was like a boy.
A thousand flags were flaming where the sky and city meet;
A thousand bells were thundering the joy.
There was music, mirth and sunshine; but some eyes shone with regret;
And while we stun with cheers our homing braves,
O God, in Thy great mercy, let us nevermore forget
The graves they left behind, the bitter graves.

Robert W. Service
from Songs of a Sourdough, 1907

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

Robert W. Service biography

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Garden / Sara Teasdale

The Garden

My heart is a garden tired with autumn,
   Heaped with bending asters and dahlias heavy and dark,
In the hazy sunshine, the garden remembers April,
   The drench of rains and a snow-drop quick and clear as a spark;

Daffodils blowing in the cold wind of morning,
   And golden tulips, goblets holding the rain—
The garden will be hushed with snow, forgotten soon, forgotten—
   After the stillness, will spring come again?

Sara Teasdale
from Flame and Shadow, 1920

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

Sara Teasdale biography

Sunday, November 4, 2012

That time of year thou mayst in me behold /
William Shakespeare


That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
    This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
    To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

William Shakespeare
from Shakespeare's Sonnets (London: John Lane, 1899)

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

William Shakespeare biography
Shakespeare's Sonnets
Analysis of Sonnet 73

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Autumn Rain / D.H. Lawrence

Autumn Rain

The plane leaves
fall black and wet
on the lawn;

The cloud sheaves
in heaven's fields set
droop and are drawn

in falling seeds of rain;
the seed of heaven
on my face

falling – I hear again
like echoes even
that softly pace

Heaven's muffled floor,
the winds that tread
out all the grain

of tears, the store
in the sheaves of pain

caught up aloft:
the sheaves of dead
men that are slain

now winnowed soft
on the floor of heaven;
manna invisible

of all the pain
here to us given;
finely divisible
falling as rain.

D.H. Lawrence
from Look! We have come through!, 1919

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

D.H. Lawrence biography

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Penny's Top 20 / October 2012

Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in October  2012:

  1.   Men Made Out of Words, Wallace Stevens
  2.  Penny (or Penny's Hat), George Dance 
  3.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  4.  A City Sunset, T.E. Hulme
  5.  Mnemosyne, Trumbull Stickney
  6.  At the Year's Turn, Francis Sherman
  7.  An Evening in October, Sophia Almon Hensley
  8.  The Fall of the Leaf, Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The Reader, Wallace Stevens
10.  The Modern Politician, Archibald Lampman

11.  The Bed of Old John Zeller, Wallace Stevens

12.  The Autumn Thistles, Charles G.D. Roberts
13.  Fall, Leaves, Fall, Emily Bronte
14.  Afterglow, George Dance

Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens
16.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy

17.  Among the Rocks, Robert Browning

18.  London, F.S. Flint

19.  October, Helen Hunt Jackson

20. Nebula, Desi Di Nardo

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall, Leaves, Fall / Emily Brontë

Fall, Leaves, Fall

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow      
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

Emily Brontë
from A Book of Women's Verse, 1921

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Emily Brontë biography

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Among the Rocks / Robert Browning

Among the Rocks

Oh, good gigantic smile o’ the brown old earth,
      This autumn morning! How he sets his bones
To bask i’ the sun, and thrusts out knees and feet
For the ripple to run over in its mirth;
      Listening the while, where on the heap of stones
The white breast of the sea-lark twitters sweet.

That is the doctrine, simple, ancient, true;
      Such is life’s trial, as old earth smiles and knows.
If you loved only what were worth your love,
Love were clear gain, and wholly well for you:
      Make the low nature better by your throes!
Give earth yourself, go up for gain above!

Robert Browning
from Dramatis Personae, 1864

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Robert Browning biography

Sunday, October 21, 2012

An Evening in October / Sophia Almon Hensley

An Evening in October

Evening has thrown her hushing garment round
This little world; no harsh or jarring sound
Disturbs my reverie. The room is dark,
And kneeling at the window I can mark
Each light and shadow of the scene below.
The placid glistening pools, the streams that flow
Through the red earth, left by the hurrying tide;
The ridge of mountain on the farther side
Shewing more black for many twinkling lights
That come and go about the gathering heights.
Below me lie great wharves, dreary and dim,
And lumber houses crowding close and grim
Like giant shadowed guardians of the port,
With towering chimneys outlined tall and swart
Against the silver pools. Two figures pace
The wharf in ghostly silence, face from face.
O’er the black line of mountain, silver-clear
In faint rose-tint of vaporous evening air,
Sinketh the bright suspicion of a wing,
The slim curved moon, who in shy triumphing
Hideth her face. Above, the rose-tint pales
Into a silver opal, hills and dales
Of cloudy glory, fading high alone
Into a tender blue-grey monotone.—
And then I thought: “ere that fair slender moon
Has rounded grown and full, (so soon, so soon!)
Our hearts’ desire accomplished we shall see
Dear one, all light, and joy, and ecstasy!”

Sophia Almon Hensley
from Poems, 1889

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

Sophia Almon Hensley biography

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Autumn Thistles / Charles G.D. Roberts

The Autumn Thistles

The morning sky is white with mist, the earth
     White with the inspiration of the dew.
     The harvest light is on the hills anew,
And cheer in the grave acres' fruitful girth.
Only in this high pasture is there dearth,
     Where the gray thistles crowd in ranks austere,
     As if the sod, close-cropt for many a year,
Brought only bane and bitterness to birth.

But in the crisp air's amethystine wave
     How the harsh stalks are washed with radiance now,
     How gleams the harsh turf where the crickets lie
Dew-freshened in their burnished armour brave!
     Since earth could not endure nor heaven allow
     Aught of unlovely in the morn's clear eye.

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

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mnemosyne / Trumbull Stickney


It’s autumn in the country I remember.

How warm a wind blew here about the ways!
And shadows on the hillside lay to slumber
During the long sun-sweetened summer-days.

It’s cold abroad the country I remember.

The swallows veering skimmed the golden grain
At midday with a wing aslant and limber;
And yellow cattle browsed upon the plain.

It’s empty down the country I remember.

I had a sister lovely in my sight:
Her hair was dark, her eyes were very sombre;
We sang together in the woods at night.

It’s lonely in the country I remember.

The babble of our children fills my ears,
And on our hearth I stare the perished ember
To flames that show all starry thro’ my tears.

It’s dark about the country I remember.

There are the mountains where I lived. The path
Is slushed with cattle-tracks and fallen timber,
The stumps are twisted by the tempests’ wrath.

But that I knew these places are my own,
I’d ask how came such wretchedness to cumber
The earth, and I to people it alone.

It rains across the country I remember.

Trumbull Stickney
from Dramatic Verses, 1902

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Trumbull Stickney biography

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Fall of the Leaf / Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The Fall of the Leaf

Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the heart feels a languid grief
     Laid on it for a covering,
     And how sleep seems a goodly thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

And how the spirit gripes misfortune
At the fall of the leaf in Autumn,
     As one that makes the ? end more brief,
     And how the mind with the falling leaf
Falls, till its births are mere abortion?

Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the clogged sense, coiled up & stiff
     At feel of summer's vanishing perishing,
     Dares not pass winter to reach Spring
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

And how the swift heat of the brain
     Hateth because it is in vain
     In Autumn at the fall of the leaf,
     Knowest thou not? & how the chief
Of joys seems not to have much pain.

Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the soul feels as a dried sheaf
     Bound up at length for harvesting,
     And how death seems a comely thing
In autumn at the fall of the leaf?

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Sunday, October 7, 2012

At the Year's Turn / Francis Sherman

At the Year's Turn

This year, the perfume of her hair
Has fallen about me many times —
Dimly; as when you waken where
One long ago made subtle rhymes
Your vain hands clasp the empty air.

When April first came in, and Spring
Called loud from valley unto hill,
Awhile I laughed at each new thing —
Strong as the risen waters: still,
I dreamed upon her wandering.

And when the warm, warm days were come,
And roses bloomed in any lane,
My heart, that should have sung, was dumb
As waiting birds before the rain:
The heavy air was burthensome.

Today, I paused, at the year’s turn,
Between the sunset and the wood
Where many broad-leaved maples burn;
Until I saw her, where I stood,
Across the tawny seas of fern

(Red rowan-berries in her hair) —
October — come to me again:
And as I waited for her there,
Softly the Hunter’s Moon made plain
Her curvèd bosom, white and bare.

Francis Sherman
from An Acadian Easter and other poems, 1900

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

Francis Sherman biography

Saturday, October 6, 2012

October / Helen Hunt Jackson


The month of carnival of all the year,
When Nature lets the wild earth go its way,
And spend whole seasons on a single day.
The spring-time holds her white and purple dear;
October, lavish, flaunts them far and near;
The summer charily her reds doth lay
Like jewels on her costliest array;
October, scornful, burns them on a bier.
The winter hoards his pearls of frost in sign
Of kingdom: whiter pearls than winter knew,
Oar empress wore, in Egypt's ancient line,
October, feasting 'neath her dome of blue,
Drinks at a single draught, slow filtered through
Sunshiny air, as in a tingling wine!

Helen Hunt Jackson 
from A Calendar of Sonnets, 1891 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography

Friday, October 5, 2012

Penny's Top 20 / September 2012

Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in September  2012:

  1.  Penny (or Penny's Hat), George Dance
  2.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  3.  Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens
  4.  Fair Summer Droops, Thomas Campion
  5.  Heat, Archibald Lampman
  6.  Let me not to the marriage of true minds, William Shakespeare
  7.  Like Rain it sounded till it curved, Emily Dickinson
  8.  Drifting Away: A Fragment, Charles Kingsley

  9.  The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens

10.  In Apple Time, Bliss Carman

The Reader, Wallace Stevens
12.  Wedding Hymn, Sidney Lanier
13.  Let No Charitable Hope, Elinor Wylie
14.  A City Sunset, T.E. Hulme

15.  The End of the Summer, Ella Wheeler Wilcox

16.  Wind and Silver, Amy Lowell

17.  September, Helen Hunt Jackson

18.  The Golden Land, Francis Turner Palgrave

19.  In the Shadows, Pauline Johnson

20.  Late September, Amy Lowell

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Late September / Amy Lowell

Late September

Tang of fruitage in the air;
Red boughs bursting everywhere;
Shimmering of seeded grass;
Hooded gentians all a'mass.

Warmth of earth, and cloudless wind
Tearing off the husky rind,
Blowing feathered seeds to fall
By the sun-baked, sheltering wall.

Beech trees in a golden haze;
Hardy sumachs all ablaze,
Glowing through the silver birches.
How that pine tree shouts and lurches!

From the sunny door-jamb high,
Swings the shell of a butterfly.
Scrape of insect violins
Through the stubble shrilly dins.

Every blade's a minaret
Where a small muezzin's set,
Loudly calling us to pray
At the miracle of day.

Then the purple-lidded night
Westering comes, her footsteps light
Guided by the radiant boon
Of a sickle-shaped new moon.

Amy Lowell
from Sword Blades and Poppy Seed, 1914

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

Amy Lowell biography

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September / Helen Hunt Jackson


O golden month! How high thy gold is heaped!
The yellow birch-leaves shine like bright coins strung
On wands; the chestnut's yellow pennons tongue
To every wind its harvest challenge. Steeped
In yellow, still lie fields where wheat was reaped;
And yellow still the corn sheaves, stacked among
The yellow gourds, which from the earth have wrung
Her utmost gold. To highest boughs have leaped
The purple grape,--last thing to ripen, late
By very reason of its precious cost.
O Heart, remember, vintages are lost
If grapes do not for freezing night-dews wait.
Think, while thou sunnest thyself in Joy's estate,
Mayhap thou canst not ripen without frost!

Helen Hunt Jackson 
from A Calendar of Sonnets, 1891 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Let me not to the marriage of true minds /
William Shakespeare


Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
     If this be error and upon me prov'd,
     I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.

William Shakespeare
from Shakespeare's Sonnets (London: John Lane, 1899)

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

William Shakespeare biography
Shakespeare's Sonnets
Analysis of Sonnet 116

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Wedding Hymn / Sidney Lanier

Wedding Hymn

Thou God, whose high, eternal Love
Is the only blue sky of our life,
Clear all the Heaven that bends above
The life-road of this man and wife.
May these two lives be but one note
In the world’s strange-sounding harmony,
Whose sacred music e’er shall float
Through every discord up to Thee.
As when from separate stars two beams
Unite to form one tender ray:
As when two sweet but shadowy dreams
Explain each other in the day:
So may these two dear hearts one light
Emit, and each interpret each.
Let an angel come and dwell tonight
In this dear double-heart, and teach.

Sidney Lanier
from The Poems of Sidney Lanier, 1891.

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Sidney Lanier biography

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The End of the Summer / Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The End of the Summer

The birds laugh loud and long together
When Fashion's followers speed away
At the first cool breath of autumn weather.
Why, this is the time, cry the birds, to stay!
When the deep calm sea and the deep sky over
Both look their passion through sun-kissed space,
As a blue-eyed maid and her blue-eyed lover
Might each gaze into the other's face.

Oh! this is the time when careful spying
Discovers the secrets Nature knows.
You find when the butterflies plan for flying
(Before the thrush or the blackbird goes),
You see some day by the water's edges
A brilliant border of red and black;
And then off over the hills and hedges
It flutters away on the summer's track.

The shy little sumacs, in lonely places,
Bowed all summer with dust and heat,
Like clean-clad children with rain-washed faces,
Are dressed in scarlet from head to feet.
And never a flower had the boastful summer,
In all the blossoms that decked her sod,
So royal hued as that later comer
The purple chum of the goldenrod.

Some chill grey dawn you note with grieving
That the King of Autumn is on his way.
You see, with a sorrowful, slow believing,
How the wanton woods have gone astray.
They wear the stain of bold caresses,
Of riotous revels with old King Frost;
They dazzle all eyes with their gorgeous dresses,
Nor care that their green young leaves are lost.

A wet wind blows from the East one morning,
The wood's gay garments looked draggled out.
You hear a sound, and your heart takes warning –
The birds are planning their winter route.
They wheel and settle and scold and wrangle,
Their tempers are ruffled, their voices loud;
Then whirr – and away in a feathered tangle,
To fade in the south like a passing cloud.


A songless wood stripped bare of glory –
A sodden moor that is black and brown;
The year has finished its last love-story:
Oh! let us away to the gay bright town.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox
from Poems of Sentiment, 1906

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

Ella Wheeler Wilcox biography

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Golden Land / Francis Turner Palgrave

The Golden Land

O sweet September in the valley
Carved through the green hills, sheer and straight,
Where the tall trees crowd round and sally
Down the slope sides, with stately gait
And sylvan dance: and in the hollow
Silver voices ripple and cry
Follow, O follow!

Follow, O follow! - and we follow
Where the white cottages star the slope,
And the white smoke winds o'er the hollow,
And the blythe air is quick with hope;
Till the Sun whispers, O remember!
You have but thirty days to run,
O sweet September!

- O sweet September, where the valley
Leans out wider and sunny and full,
And the red cliffs dip their feet and dally
With the green billows, green and cool;
And the green billows archly smiling,
Kiss and cling to them, kiss and leave them,
Bright and beguiling: -

Bright and beguiling, as She who glances
Along the shore and the meadows along,
And sings for heart's delight, and dances
Crowned with apples, and ruddy, and strong:-
Can we see thee, and not remember
Thy sun-brown cheek and hair sun-golden,
O sweet September?

Francis Turner Palgrave (1824-1897)
from Lyrical Poems, 1871

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Francis Turner Palgrave biography

Sunday, September 9, 2012

In Apple Time / Bliss Carman

In Apple Time

The apple harvest days are here,
     The boding apple harvest days,
     And down the flaming valley ways,
The foresters of time draw near,

Through leagues of bloom I went with Spring,
     To call you on the slopes of morn,
     Where in imperious song is borne
The wild heart of the goldenwing.

I roamed through alien summer lands,
     I sought your beauty near and far;
     To-day, where russet shadows are,
I hold your face between my hands.

On runnels dark by slopes of fern,
     The hazy undern sleeps in sun.
     Remembrance and desire, undone,
From old regret to dreams return.

The apple harvest time is here,
     The tender apple harvest time;
     A sheltering calm, unknown at prime,
Settles upon the brooding year.

Bliss Carman
from Low Tide on Grand Pre, 1893

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

Bliss Carman biography

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Drifting Away: A Fragment / Charles Kingsley

Drifting Away: A Fragment

They drift away.  Ah, God! they drift for ever.
I watch the stream sweep onward to the sea,
Like some old battered buoy upon a roaring river,
Round whom the tide-waifs hang — then drift to sea.

I watch them drift — the old familiar faces,
Who fished and rode with me, by stream and wold,
Till ghosts, not men, fill old beloved places,
And, ah! the land is rank with churchyard mold.

I watch them drift — the youthful aspirations,
Shores, landmarks, beacons, drift alike.
. . . . .
I watch them drift — the poets and the statesmen;
The very streams run upward from the sea.
   . . . . . .
   Yet overhead the boundless arch of heaven
   Still fades to night, still blazes into day.
   . . . . .
   Ah, God!  My God!  Thou wilt not drift away.

Charles Kingsley
from Andromeda and other poems, 1858

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Charles Kingsley biography

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Penny's Top 20 / August 2012

Penny's Top 20

The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in August 2012:

  1.  Penny (or Penny's Hat), George Dance
  2.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  3.  Men Made Out of Words, Wallace Stevens
  4.  For the Fallen, Laurence Binyon
  5.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens 
  6.  A Day in June, James Russell Lowell
  7.  Newark Abbey, Thomas Love Peacock
  8.  Olympian Ode 14, Pindar

Afterglow, George Dance 
10.  In August, Paul Laurence Dunbar

11.  Song: Has summer come without the rose?, Arthur O'Shaughnessy

12.  Evening on the Marshes, Barry Straton 
13.  To an Athlete Dying Young, A.E. Housman
14.  August, Christopher Pearse Cranch

15.  August, Helen Hunt Jackson

16.  The Beach in August, Weldon Kees

17.  Accompaniment / Accompagnement, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau

18.  Love is not all, Edna St. Vincent Millay

19.  Vowels / Voyelles, Arthur Rimbaud

20.  Summer Dawn, William Morris

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Monday, September 3, 2012

Heat / Archibald Lampman


From plains that reel to southward, dim,
  The road runs by me white and bare;
Up the steep hill it seems to swim
  Beyond, and melt into the glare.
Upward half-way, or it may be
  Nearer the summit, slowly steals
A hay-cart, moving dustily
  With idly clacking wheels.

By his cart's side the wagoner
  Is slouching slowly at his ease,
Half-hidden in the windless blur
  Of white dust puffing to his knees.
This wagon on the height above,
  From sky to sky on either hand,
Is the sole thing that seems to move
  In all the heat-held land.

Beyond me in the fields the sun
  Soaks in the grass and hath his will;
I count the marguerites one by one;
  Even the buttercups are still.
On the brook yonder not a breath
  Disturbs the spider or the midge.
The water-bugs draw close beneath
  The cool gloom of the bridge.

Where the far elm-tree shadows flood
  Dark patches in the burning grass,
The cows, each with her peaceful cud,
  Lie waiting for the heat to pass.
From somewhere on the slope near by
  Into the pale depth of the noon
A wandering thrush slides leisurely
  His thin revolving tune.

In intervals of dreams I hear
  The cricket from the droughty ground;
The grasshoppers spin into mine ear
  A small innumerable sound.
I lift mine eyes sometimes to gaze:
  The burning sky-line blinds my sight:
The woods far off are blue with haze:
  The hills are drenched in light.

And yet to me not this or that
  Is always sharp or always sweet;
In the sloped shadow of my hat
  I lean at rest, and drain the heat;
Nay more, I think some blessed power
  Hath brought me wandering idly here:
In the full furnace of this hour
  My thoughts grow keen and clear.

Archibald Lampman
from Among the Millet, 1888

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Archibald Lampman biography