Saturday, June 30, 2012

Midsummer Night / Archibald Lampman

Midsummer Night

Mother of balms and soothings manifold,
Quiet-breathed night whose brooding hours are seven,
To whom the voices of all rest are given,
And those few stars whose scattered names are told,
Far off beyond the westward hills outrolled,
Darker than thou, more still, more dreamy even,
The golden moon leans in the dusky heaven,
And under her one star – a point of gold:

And all go slowly lingering toward the west,
As we go down forgetfully to our rest,
Weary of daytime, tired of noise and light:
Ah, it was time that thou should'st come; for we
Were sore athirst, and had great need of thee,
Thou sweet physician, balmy-bosomed night.

Archibald Lampman 
from Among the Millet and other poems, 1888

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Archibald Lampman biography

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Metric Figure / William Carlos Williams

Metric Figure 

There is a bird in the poplars! –
It is the sun!
The leaves are little yellow fish
Swimming in the river;
The bird skims above them –
Day is on his wings.
It is he that is making
The great gleam among the poplars.
It is his singing
Outshines the noise
Of leaves clashing in the wind.

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
from A Book of Poems: Al que quiere!, 1917

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

William Carlos Williams biography

Saturday, June 23, 2012

First Day of Summer / Laurence Binyon

First Day of Summer

Sweetest of all delights are the vainest, merest;
Hours when breath is joy, for the breathing's sake.
Summer awoke this morning, and early awake
I rose refreshed, and gladly my eyes saluted
The entering beam of the sun that laughed his clearest.
I too laughed for pleasure, and vowed straightway
To stream and sun the flower of an idle day,
With summer sweetly enjoyed and friends well suited.

Merry were we, as stepping aboard we laid
The shaven oars in order; merry the leap
Of the oar, that grasped the water and stirred from sleep
A wave, to tremble past us in foamy rings.
With rhyming fall, and with bright returning blade
Impetuous music urges the rippling keel;
Softly our necks the flow of the breezes feel;
And blue, and thronged with birds, the morning sings.

And lo, the elms, in a day reclothed and gleaming
In delicate youth, above us stir their leaves.
The eye, to naked winter used, receives
A magic pleasure: and still the shore we follow
Winding in flowery meadows; freshly streaming
The river meets us ever from fields unknown:
As light we travel his curving mirror lone,
No longer I envy you, O frolic swallow.

Till moored at noon by shadowy turf, and ended
Awhile that pleasant toil, what relish keen
At ease to lie amid flowers, with rustling green
O'ershaded; there, reclined by a bubbling pool,
The rushing weir in murmur and foam blended,
Entrancing ear and eye, caresses the brain
With smooth perpetual sound, the lulling strain
Of water weariless poured and glittering cool.

O then, refreshed, in the level light serene
Our boat re-entering, her prow homeward turned,
How soft we glided; soft, as evening burned
Through drooping leaves, our liquid furrow stirred
The dim green heights of the elm, reflected green
In shadowy water; at last the dreaming shore
From its own enchanted mirror we know no more:
Softly we glided downward, and spoke no word.

Nor took we land, till the West in a blush was dying,
And over the twilit meadow we loitered home.
Even now in my ear is rushing the constant foam,
And the dappled stream is alight with the wind's laughter,
As I taste, in the cool of the darkness dreamily lying,
The sun yet warm upon limbs that sweetly ache;
Drowsed deliciously, still I linger awake,
Only to keep my delight, and to look not after.

Lawrence Binyon
from The Praise of Life, 1896.

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

Laurence Binyon biography

Sunday, June 17, 2012

In June and Gentle Oven / Anne Wilkinson

In June and Gentle Oven

In June and gentle oven
Summer kingdoms simmer
As they come
And through flower and leaf and love
Their sweetest juice.

No wind at all
On the wide green world
Where fields go stroll-
ing by
And in and out
An adder of a stream
Parts the daisies
On a small Ontario farm.

And where, in the curve of meadow,
Lovers, touching, lie,
A church of grass stands up
And walls them, holy, in.

Fabulous the insects
Stud the air
Or walk on running water,
Klee-drawn saints
And bright as angels are.

Honeysuckle here
Is more than bees can bear
And time turns pale
And stops to catch the breath
And lovers slip their flesh
And light as pollen
Play on treble water
Till bodies reappear
And a shower of sun
To dry their langour.

Then two in one the lovers lie
And peel the skin of summer
With their teeth
And suck its marrow from a kiss
So charged with grace
The tongue, all knowing
Holds the sap of June
Aloof from seasons, flowing.

Anne Wilkinson (1910-1961)
from The Hangman Ties the Holly, 1955

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Anne Wilkinson biography

Saturday, June 16, 2012

June / Helen Hunt Jackson


O month whose promise and fulfilment blend,
And burst in one! it seems the earth can store
In all her roomy house no treasure more;
Of all her wealth no farthing have to spend
On fruit, when once this stintless flowering end.
And yet no tiniest flower shall fall before
It hath made ready at its hidden core
Its tithe of seed, which we may count and tend
Till harvest. Joy of blossomed love, for thee
Seems it no fairer thing can yet have birth?
No room is left for deeper ecstacy?
Watch well if seeds grow strong, to scatter free
Germs for thy future summers on the earth.
A joy which is but joy soon comes to dearth.

Helen Hunt Jackson 
from A Calendar of Sonnets, 1891 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography

Sunday, June 10, 2012

June / Virna Sheard


Now by every meadow-side the buttercups blow -
(O June, you are spendthrift of your gold!)
Green are the uplands where the little lambs go,
Green and glad the forests that are old.

Once again the summer weaves on her magic loom,
Cloth of clover,- fairy web of wheat;-
Only Mary's alabaster box of perfume
Ever made the passing wind more sweet.

Even through the city where the dusty roads run,
Blue runs now the river to the sea.
Tender is the twilight when the long day is done,-
Infinite the stars' tranquillity.

Not forever are the rains or the winter snows,
All these past - nor shall be overlong,-
And with every lovely June cometh the rose,
The sweet blue dusk,- a night-bird's wonder-song!

Virna Sheard
from Ballad of the Quest, 1922

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

Virna Sheard biography

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Like one great opal on the breast of Night /
Robert Norwood


Like one great opal on the breast of Night,
Soft and translucent, hangs the orb of June!
I hear wild pipings of a joyous tune
Played on a golden reed for the delight
Of you, my hidden, lovely Eremite –
You by the fountain from the marble hewn –
You silent as in dream, with flowers strewn
About your feet – you goddess, robed in white!

Mute and amazed, I at the broken wall
Lean fearful, lest the sudden, dreadful dawn
For me Diana's awful doom let fall;
And I be cursed with curious Actæon,
Save that you find in me this strong defence –
My adoration of your innocence.

Robert Norwood
from His Lady of the Sonnets, 1915

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

Robert Norwood biography

Sunday, June 3, 2012

June / Dollie Radford


The skies are blue
     O'er the meadow now,
And the leaves are new
     On the willow-bough,
While the glad earth sings
     In one joyous tune,
All the happy things
     Of the happy June.

Oh the joyous time
     Of the fresh sweet June,
And the happy rhyme
     That must die so soon;
But again – again –
     When the years are young,
Will the sweet refrain
     Be sung  – be sung.

Dollie Radford
from A Light Load, 1891

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

Dollie Radford biography

Saturday, June 2, 2012

In Fountain Court / Arthur Symons

In Fountain Court

The fountain murmuring of sleep,
A drowsy tune;
The flickering green of leaves that keep
The light of June;
Peace, through a slumbering afternoon,
The peace of June.

A waiting ghost, in the blue sky,
The white curved moon;
June, hushed and breathless, waits, and I
Wait too, with June;
Come, through the lingering afternoon,
Soon, love, come soon.

Arthur Symons (1865-1945)
from Silhouettes, 1892

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

Arthur Symons biography