Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spring / Edna St. Vincent Millay


To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Edna St. Vincent Millay
from Second April, 1921

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

Edna St. Vincent Millay biography

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Defeat / Constance Woodrow


Between the grey monotony of sky
And darker grey monotony of sea
A solitary seagull passes by,
Beating the air, and screaming plaintively.

And even so  between grey yesterdays,
Before your coming waked my dreaming heart,
And darker grey to-morrows, when our ways
Must lie forever half a world apart   

I take my way on wings that feebly beat
Against the adverse winds of circumstance,
My heart, rebellious at this last defeat,
Screaming defiance at the gods of chance.

Constance Woodrow (1899-1937)
from The Captive Gypsy, 1928

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

Constance Woodrow biography

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wild Peaches / Elinor Wylie

Wild Peaches 


When the world turns completely upside down
You say we'll emigrate to the Eastern Shore
Aboard a river-boat from Baltimore;
We'll live among wild peach trees, miles from town,
You'll wear a coonskin cap, and I a gown
Homespun, dyed butternut's dark gold colour.
Lost, like your lotus-eating ancestor,
We'll swim in milk and honey till we drown.

The winter will be short, the summer long,
The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot,
Tasting of cider and of scuppernong;
All seasons sweet, but autumn best of all.
The squirrels in their silver fur will fall
Like falling leaves, like fruit, before your shot.


The autumn frosts will lie upon the grass
Like bloom on grapes of purple-brown and gold.
The misted early mornings will be cold;
The little puddles will be roofed with glass.
The sun, which burns from copper into brass,
Melts these at noon, and makes the boys unfold
Their knitted mufflers; full as they can hold
Fat pockets dribble chestnuts as they pass.

Peaches grow wild, and pigs can live in clover;
A barrel of salted herrings lasts a year;
The spring begins before the winter's over.
By February you may find the skins
Of garter snakes and water moccasins
Dwindled and harsh, dead-white and cloudy-clear.


When April pours the colours of a shell
Upon the hills, when every little creek
Is shot with silver from the Chesapeake
In shoals new-minted by the ocean swell,
When strawberries go begging, and the sleek
Blue plums lie open to the blackbird's beak,
We shall live well -- we shall live very well.

The months between the cherries and the peaches
Are brimming cornucopias which spill
Fruits red and purple, sombre-bloomed and black;
Then, down rich fields and frosty river beaches
We'll trample bright persimmons, while you kill
Bronze partridge, speckled quail, and canvasback.


Down to the Puritan marrow of my bones
There's something in this richness that I hate.
I love the look, austere, immaculate,
Of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones.
There's something in my very blood that owns
Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate,
A thread of water, churned to milky spate
Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.

I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray,
Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meagre sheaves;
That spring, briefer than apple-blossom's breath,
Summer, so much too beautiful to stay,
Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves,
And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death.

Elinor Wylie (1885-1928)
from Nets to Catch the Wind, 1921

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

Elinor Wylie biography

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April / Helen Hunt Jackson


No days such honored days as these! While yet
Fair Aphrodite reigned, men seeking wide
For some fair thing which should forever bide
On earth, her beauteous memory to set
In fitting frame that no age could forget,
Her name in lovely April's name did hide,
And leave it there, eternally allied
To all the fairest flowers Spring did beget.
And when fair Aphrodite passed from earth,
Her shrines forgotten and her feasts of mirth,
A holier symbol still in seal and sign,
Sweet April took, of kingdom most divine,
When Christ ascended, in the time of birth
Of spring anemones, in Palestine.

Helen Hunt Jackson
from A Calendar of Sonnets, 1891

[Poem is in the public domain]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April Weather / Bliss Carman

April Weather

Soon, ah, soon the April weather
With the sunshine at the door,
And the mellow melting rain-wind
Sweeping from the South once more.

Soon the rosy maples budding,
And the willows putting forth
Misty crimson and soft yellow
In the valleys of the North.

Soon the hazy purple distance,
Where the cabined heart takes wing,
Eager for the old migration
In the magic of the spring.

Soon, ah, soon the budding windflowers
Through the forest white and frail,
And the odorous wild cherry
Gleaming in her ghostly veil.

Soon about the waking uplands
The hepaticas in blue,—
Children of the first warm sunlight
In their sober Quaker hue,—

All our shining little sisters
Of the forest and the field,
Lifting up their quiet faces
With the secret half revealed.

Soon across the folding twilight
Of the round earth hushed to hear,
The first robin at his vespers
Calling far, serene and clear.

Soon the waking and the summons,
Starting sap in bole and blade,
And the bubbling, marshy whisper
Seeping up through bog and glade.

Soon the frogs in silver chorus
Through the night, from marsh and swale,
Blowing in their tiny oboes
All the joy that shall not fail,—

Passing up the old earth rapture
By a thousand streams and rills,
From the red Virginian valleys
To the blue Canadian hills.

Soon, ah, soon the splendid impulse,
Nomad longing, vagrant whim,
When a man's false angels vanish
And the truth comes back to him.

Soon the majesty, the vision,
And the old unfaltering dream,
Faith to follow, strength to stablish,
Will to venture and to seem;

All the radiance, the glamour,
The expectancy and poise,
Of this ancient life renewing
Its temerities and joys.

Soon the immemorial magic
Of the young Aprilian moon,
And the wonder of thy friendship
In the twilight — soon, ah, soon!

Bliss Carman (1861-1929)
from From The Green Book of the Bards, 1898

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

Bliss Carman biography

Saturday, April 14, 2012

An April Morning / Bliss Carman

An April Morning

Once more in misted April
The world is growing green.
Along the winding river
The plumey willows lean.

Beyond the sweeping meadows
5 The looming mountains rise,
Like battlements of dreamland
Against the brooding skies.

In every wooded valley
The buds are breaking through,
10 As though the heart of all things
No languor ever knew.

The golden-wings and bluebirds
Call to their heavenly choirs.
The pines are blued and drifted
With smoke of brushwood fires.

And in my sister’s garden
Where little breezes run,
The golden daffodillies
Are blowing in the sun.

Bliss Carman
from April Airs: A Book of New England Lyrics, 1916

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

Bliss Carman biography

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Angels, roll the rock away / Thomas Gibbons

Angels, roll the rock away

Angels, roll the rock away,
Death, yield up your mighty Prey.
See, the Savior leaves the tomb,
Glowing with immortal bloom,
Glowing with immortal bloom.

’Tis the Savior! angels, raise
Fame’s eternal trump of praise.
Let the world’s remotest bound
Hear the joy-inspiring sound,
Hear the joy-inspiring sound.

Now ye saints, lift up your eyes
Now to glory see Him rise,
In long triumph up the sky,
Up to waiting worlds on high,
Up to waiting worlds on high.

Thomas Gibbons (1720-1785)

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Thomas Gibbons biography

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Fair Singer / Andrew Marvell

The Fair Singer

To make a final conquest of all me,
Love did compose so sweet an Enemy,
In whom both Beauties to my death agree,
Joyning themselves in fatal Harmony;
That while she with her Eyes my Heart does bind,
She with her Voice might captivate my Mind.

I could have fled from One but singly fair:
My disentangled Soul it self might save,
Breaking the curled trammels of her hair.
But how should I avoid to be her Slave,
Whose subtile Art invisibly can wreath
My Fetters of the very Air I breath?

It had been easy fighting in some plain,
Where Victory might hang in equal choice.
But all resistance against her is vain,
Who has th' advantage both of Eyes and Voice.
And all my Forces needs must be undone,
She having gained both the Wind and Sun.

Andrew Marvell
from Miscellaneous Poems, 1681

[Poem is in the public domain]

Andrew Marvell biography

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Happy Tree / Gerald Gould

The Happy Tree

There was a bright and happy tree;
     The wind with music laced its boughs;
Thither across the homeless seas
     Came singing birds to house.

Men grudged the tree its happy eves,
     Its happy dawns of eager sound;
So that all crown and tower of leaves
     They leveled with the ground.

They made an upright of the stem,
     A cross-piece of a bough they made;
No shadow of their deed on them
     Their fallen branches laid.

But blithely, since the year was young,
     When they a fitting hill did find,
There on the happy tree they hung
     The Saviour of mankind.

Gerald Gould (1885-1936)
from The Happy Tree, and other poems, 1919

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

Gerald Gould biography

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Penny's Top 20 / March 2012

Penny's Top 20

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

  1.  Penny (or Penny's Hat), George Dance
  2.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens 
  3.  March, Camilla Doyle
  4.  Afterglow, George Dance
  5.  Men Made Out of Words, Wallace Stevens

  6.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
  7.  The Bed of Old John Zeller, Wallace Stevens
  8.  Early Spring, John Clare
  9.  Whiteout, George Dance
10.  The winter eve is clear and chill, Christopher Brennan

11.  The Lake Isle of Innisfree, William Butler Yeats
12.  "Frost Tonight," Edith Thomas
13.  Winter in Durnover Field, Thomas Hardy
14.  March, Helen Hunt Jackson

15.  Let No Charitable Hope, Elinor Wylie

Wind and Silver, Amy Lowell 
17.  Sea Lily, H.D.

To February, Ethelwyn Wetherald  
19.  Winter, AE

20.  To Daffodils, Robert Herrick

Source: Blogger, "Stats"