Sunday, May 27, 2012

May / Helen Hunt Jackson


O month when they who love must love and wed!
Were one to go to worlds where May is naught,
And seek to tell the memories he had brought
From earth of thee, what were most fitly said?
I know not if the rosy showers shed
From apple-boughs, or if the soft green wrought
In fields, or if the robin's call be fraught
The most with thy delight. Perhaps they read
Thee best who in the ancient time did say
Thou wert the sacred month unto the old:
No blossom blooms upon thy brightest day
So subtly sweet as memories which unfold
In aged hearts which in thy sunshine lie,
To sun themselves once more before they die.

Helen Hunt Jackson
from A Calendar of Sonnets, 1891

[Poem is in the public domain]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May in the Greenwood

May in the Greenwood

In summer, when the thickets shine
      And leaves are large and long,
'Tis merry in the forest fair
      To hear the sweet birdsong,

To see the deer draw to the dale      
      And from their high hills flee,
To seek for shadow in the leaves,
      Under the greenwood tree.

It did befall on Whitsuntide
      One early May morning,
The sun rose up and fair did shine,
      And sweet the birds did sing.

"A merry morn," said Little John.
      "By Him who died on tree,
A happier man than I lives not
      In Christianity.

"Pluck up thy heart, my master dear,"
      To Robin he did say:
"Believe it is the best of times,
      This merry morn of May."

from Robin Hood and the Monk, circa 1450
[spelling and language modernized by George J. Dance]

May in the Green-Wood

In somer when the shawes be sheyne,
      And leves be large and long,
Hit is full merry in feyre foreste
      To here the foulys song.

To se the dere draw to the dale 
      And leve the hilles hee,
And shadow him in the leves grene
      Under the green-wode tree.

Hit befell on Whitsontide
      Early in a May mornyng,
The Sonne up faire can shyne,
      And the briddis mery can syng.

'This is a mery mornyng,' said Litulle Johne,
      'Be Hym that dyed on tre;
A more mery man than I am one
      Lyves not in Christiantè.

'Pluk up thi hert, my dere mayster,'
      Litulle Johne can say,
'And thynk hit is a fulle fayre tyme
      In a mornynge of May.'

Anonymous, 15th century
from the Oxford Book of English Verse, 1919.

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

George J. Dance biography

Monday, May 21, 2012

Corrina's Going a-Maying / Robert Herrick

Corinna's Going a-Maying

Get up, get up for shame, the blooming Morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
                     See how Aurora throws her fair
                     Fresh-quilted colours through the air:
                     Get up, sweet-Slug-a-bed, and see
                     The Dew-bespangling Herb and Tree.
Each Flower has wept, and bow'd toward the East,
Above an hour since; yet you not drest,
                     Nay! not so much as out of bed?
                     When all the Birds have Matins said,
                     And sung their thankful Hymns: 'tis sin,
                     Nay, profanation to keep in,
When as a thousand Virgins on this day,
Spring, sooner than the Lark, to fetch in May.

Rise; and put on your Foliage, and be seen
To come forth, like the Spring-time, fresh and green;
                     And sweet as Flora. Take no care
                     For Jewels for your Gown, or Hair:
                     Fear not; the leaves will strew
                     Gems in abundance upon you:
Besides, the childhood of the Day has kept,
Against you come, some Orient Pearls unwept:
                     Come, and receive them while the light
                     Hangs on the Dew-locks of the night:
                     And Titan on the Eastern hill
                     Retires himself, or else stands still
Till you come forth. Wash, dress, be brief in praying:
Few Beads are best, when once we go a-Maying.

Come, my Corinna, come; and coming, mark
How each field turns a street; each street a Park
                     Made green, and trimm'd with trees: see how
                     Devotion gives each House a Bough,
                     Or Branch: Each Porch, each door, ere this,
                     An Ark a Tabernacle is
Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove;
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
                     Can such delights be in the street,
                     And open fields, and we not see't?
                     Come, we'll abroad; and let's obey
                     The Proclamation made for May:
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying;
But my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.

There's not a budding Boy, or Girl, this day,
But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
                     A deal of Youth, ere this, is come
                     Back, and with White-thorn laden home.
                     Some have dispatched their Cakes and Cream,
                     Before that we have left to dream:
And some have wept, and woo'd, and plighted Troth,
And chose their Priest, ere we can cast off sloth:
                     Many a green-gown has been given;
                     Many a kiss, both odd and even:
                     Many a glance too has been sent
                     From out the eye, Love's Firmament:
Many a jest told of the Keys betraying
This night, and Locks pick'd, yet we're not a-Maying.

Come, let us go, while we are in our prime;
And take the harmless folly of the time.
                     We shall grow old apace, and die
                     Before we know our liberty.
                     Our life is short; and our days run
                     As fast away as does the Sun:
And as a vapour, or a drop of rain
Once lost, can ne'r be found again:
                     So when or you or I are made
                     A fable, song, or fleeting shade;
                     All love, all liking, all delight
                     Lies drown'd with us in endless night.
Then while time serves, and we are but decaying;
Come, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying..

Robert Herrick
from Hesperides, 1648

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Robert Herrick biography

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bird Song / George J. Dance

Bird Song 

 I do not thrive; I only speak,
 so softly, about whining things.
 In my mind, the dead bird sings
 and all things lost pass from its beak.
        - Karen Tellefson, 2007

 “And all things lost pass from its beak”
(in song, I hope – if real, a mess
would be on table, floor, and dress,
to clean up which might take a week) –
a friendly tune when one feels weak.

Though to that song mine can't compare,
a singing bird in bush or air
is worth four dead ones in the mind.
Let’s take a walk outside to find
the joy of birdsong, everywhere.

George J. Dance, 2007
from Doggerel, and other doggerel, 2015

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

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Spring's Welcome / John Lyly

Spring's Welcome

What bird so sings, yet so does wail?
O 'tis the ravish'd nightingale.
Jug, jug, jug, jug, tereu! she cries,
And still her woes at midnight rise.
Brave prick-song! Who is't now we hear?
None but the lark so shrill and clear;
Now at heaven's gate she claps her wings,
The morn not waking till she sings.
Hark, hark, with what a pretty throat
Poor robin redbreast tunes his note!
Hark how the jolly cuckoos sing
Cuckoo! to welcome in the spring!
Cuckoo! to welcome in the spring!

John Lyly
from Campaspe, 1584

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Lyly biography

Sunday, May 13, 2012

To My Mother / Thomas Moore

To My Mother

They tell us of an Indian tree
Which howsoe'er the sun and sky
May tempt its boughs to wander free,
And shoot and blossom, wide and high,
Far better loves to bend its arms
Downward again to that dear earth
From which the life that fills and warms
Its grateful being, first had birth.
'Tis thus, though wooed by flattering friends,
And fed with fame (if fame it be),
This heart, my own dear mother, bends,
With love's true instinct, back to thee!

Thomas Moore

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Thomas Moore biography
Mother on The Penny Blog.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spring / Thomas Nashe


Spring, the sweet Spring, is the year's pleasant king;
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing –
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The palm and may make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day,
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay –
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,
In every street these tunes our ears do greet –
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!
Spring, the sweet Spring!

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, May 6, 2012

The May Queen / Marie Fischer

The May Queen

She wears sunlight in her hair
And violets in her eyes
And her cheeks are the petals of a rose.
She bears Love on her arm
And lilies are her feet,
And they carry Life wherever she goes.

There are graces on her lips
And rainbows on her robes
And her wreath is the coronet of May.
She is Fairy Queen of earth -
The wand at her heart
Is a Bud from the Triune Bouquet.

She is Mother, Queen, and Maid,
And God is her Child,
And her Courts are the meadows where They play
Forever and for aye.
She is Mary full of grace.
She is Queen of Eternal May.

Marie Fischer
from Our Lady's Praise in Poetry, 1944
(from the website Marian Poetry

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

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May / Edward Thurlow


May! queen of blossoms,
     And fulfilling flowers,
With what pretty music
     Shall we charm the hours?
Wilt thou have pipe and reed,
Blown in the open mead?
Or to the lute give heed
     In the green bowers?

Thou hast no need of us,
     Or pipe or wire;
Thou hast the golden bee
     Ripen'd with fire;
And many thousand more
Songsters, that thee adore,
Filling earth's grassy floor
     With new desire.

Thou hast thy mighty herds,
     Tame and free-livers;
Doubt not, thy music too
     In the deep rivers;
And the whole plumy flight
Warbling the day and night —
Up at the gates of light,
     See, the lark quivers!

Edward Thurlow 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Edward Thurlow biography

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Penny's Top 20 / April 2012

Penny's Top 20

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

  1.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens 
  2.  Mars & Avril, George Dance
  3.  Wild Peaches, Elinor Wylie
  4.  Wind and Silver, Amy Lowell
  5.  Defeat, Constance Woodrow
  6.  The Happy Tree, Gerald Gould
  7.  The Fair Singer, Andrew Marvell
  8.  Chaos in Motion and Not in Motion, Wallace Stevens
  9.  An April Morning, Bliss Carman
Let No Charitable Hope, Elinor Wylie

Men Made Out of Words, Wallace Stevens
12.   The Reader, Wallace Stevens 
13.  Spring, Edna St. Vincent Millay
14.  April, Helen Hunt Jackson

15.  Spleen, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau

16.  The Huron Carol, trans. J. Edgar Middleton

Penny (or Penny's Hat), George Dance  
18.  Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Wallace Stevens

19.  Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens

20.  Angels, roll the rock away - Thomas Gibbons

Source: Blogger, "Stats"