Sunday, August 26, 2012

In August / Paul Laurence Dunbar

In August

When August days are hot an' dry,
When burning copper is the sky,
I'd rather fish than feast or fly
In airy realms serene and high.

I'd take a suit not made for looks,
Some easily digested books,
Some flies, some lines, some bait, some hooks,
Then would I seek the bays and brooks.

I would eschew mine every task,
In Nature's smiles my soul should bask,
And I methinks no more could ask,
Except – perhaps  –  one little flask.

In case of accident, you know,
Or should the wind come on to blow,
Or I be chilled or capsized, so,
A flask would be the only go.

Then could I spend a happy time, –
A bit of sport, a bit of rhyme
(A bit of lemon, or of lime,
To make my bottle's contents prime).

When August days are hot an' dry,
I won't sit by an' sigh or die,
I 'll get my bottle (on the sly)
And go ahead, and fish, and lie!

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
from The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1913

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Paul Laurence Dunbar biography

Saturday, August 25, 2012

August / Christopher Pearse Cranch



Far off among the fields and meadow rills
The August noon bends o'er a world of green.
In the blue sky the white clouds pause, and lean
To paint broad shadows on the wooded hills
And upland farms. A brooding silence fills
The languid hours. No living forms are seen
Save birds and insects. Here and there, between
The broad boughs and the grass, the locust trills
Unseen his long-drawn, slumberous monotone.
The sparrow and the lonely phœbe-bird,
Now near, now far, across the fields are heard;
And close beside me here that Spanish drone,
The dancing grasshopper, whom no trouble frets,
In the hot sunshine snaps his castanets.

Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813-1892)
from Ariel and Caliban and other poems, 1887

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Christopher Pearse Cranch biography

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Beach in August / Weldon Kees

The Beach in August

The day the fat woman
In the bright blue bathing suit
Walked into the water and died,
I thought about the human
Condition. Pieces of old fruit
Came in and were left by the tide.

What I thought about the human
Condition was this: old fruit
Comes in and is left, and dries
In the sun. Another fat woman
In a dull green bathing suit
Dives into the water and dies.
The pulmotors glisten. It is noon.

We dry and die in the sun
While the seascape arranges old fruit,
Coming in and the tide, glistening
At noon. A woman, moderately stout,
In a nondescript bathing suit,
Swims to a pier. A tall woman
Steps toward the sea. One thinks about the human
Condition. The tide goes in and goes out.

Weldon Kees (1914-1955)
from Poems 1947-1954, 1954

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Weldon Kees biography

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August / Helen Hunt Jackson


Silence again. The glorious symphony
Hath need of pause and interval of peace.
Some subtle signal bids all sweet sounds cease,
Save hum of insects' aimless industry.
Pathetic summer seeks by blazonry
Of color to conceal her swift decrease.
Weak subterfuge! Each mocking day doth fleece
A blossom, and lay bare her poverty.
Poor middle-aged summer! Vain this show!
Whole fields of Golden-Rod cannot offset
One meadow with a single violet;
And well the singing thrush and lily know,
Spite of all artifice which her regret
Can deck in splendid guise, their time to go!

Helen Hunt Jackson 
from A Calendar of Sonnets, 1891 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Olympian Ode 14 / Pindar

Olympian Ode 14

for Asopichus of Orchomenus, winner of the boys' short sprint race 

O you who haunt the land of steeds that drink Kephisos' waters,
You lusty queens of Orchomenos famed in song, hear me,
O Graces, guardians of the Minyai, unto you I pray

For by your gift come unto men all pleasant things and sweet,
The wisdom of a man, his looks, the splendour of his fame.
Even the gods without your aid rule not at feast or dance;
But you have charge of all things done in heaven as on earth,
Your thrones beside Apollo, lord of the golden bow,
To worship the eternal power of the Olympian Father.

O noble queen Aglaia, and Euphrosyne, lover of song,
And Thalia mistress of the dance, listen now and hear,
You children of the mightiest gods, look down upon this triumph,
See the festive revellers stepping lightly with good fortune.

In Lydian mood of melody, of young Asopichos
Have I come now to sing, because through you, Aglaia,
In the Olympic contests the Minyai are triumphant.

Fly, Echo, to the black-walled dwelling of Persephone.
Seek out and find Cleodamus, to tell him of his son,
How for his father's honour he, in Pisa's famous valley,
Has crowned his youthful head with garlands from the glorious games.

Pindar, 476 B.C.
translated by Ernest Myers
versified by George J. Dance

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Pindar biography
George J. Dance biography

Saturday, August 11, 2012

To an Athlete Dying Young / A.E. Housman


To an Athlete Dying Young

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

Today, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears.

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s.

A.E. Housman (1859-1936)
from A Shropshire Lad, 1896

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

A.E. Housman biography

Penny's Top 20 / July 2012

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

  1.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens 
  2.  Penny (or Penny's Hat), George Dance
  3.  Men Made Out of Words, Wallace Stevens
  4.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
  5.  Summer 1969, Michael G. Munoz
  6.  Midsummer Night, Archibald Lampman
  7.  Sky Song, Will Dockery
  8.  Solitude Surrounded, AE Reiff

  9.  A Canadian Summer Evening, Rosanna Leprohon
10.  Chaos in Motion and Not in Motion, Wallace Stevens

11.  when i was young, David George

12.  Afterglow, George Dance
13.  Evening on the Marshes, Barry Straton
14.  Spring, Thomas Nashe

Vowels / Voyelles, Arthur Rimbaud 
16.  When Summer Comes, Sophia Almon Hensley

17.  July, Helen Hunt Jackson

Romance Novel / Roman, Arthur Rimbaud 
19.  In July, Edward Dowden

20.  The Blue Heron, Theodore Goodridge Roberts

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Dawn / William Morris

Summer Dawn

Pray but one prayer for me 'twixt thy closed lips,
  Think but one thought of me up in the stars.
The summer night waneth, the morning light slips
  Faint and gray 'twixt the leaves of the aspen, betwixt the cloud-bars,
That are patiently waiting there for the dawn:        
  Patient and colourless, though Heaven's gold
Waits to float through them along with the sun.
Far out in the meadows, above the young corn,
  The heavy elms wait, and restless and cold
The uneasy wind rises; the roses are dun;
Through the long twilight they pray for the dawn
Round the lone house in the midst of the corn.
    Speak but one word to me over the corn,
    Over the tender, bow'd locks of the corn.

William Morris
from The Defence of Guenevere, and other poems, 1858

[Poem is in the public domain]

William Morris biography

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Song: Has summer come without the rose? /
Arthur O'Shaughnessy


Has summer come without the rose,
    Or left the bird behind?
Is the blue changed above thee,
    O world! or am I blind?
Will you change every flower that grows,    
    Or only change this spot,
Where she who said, I love thee,
    Now says, I love thee not?

The skies seem’d true above thee,
    The rose true on the tree;    
The bird seem’d true the summer through,
    But all prov’d false to me.
World, is there one good thing in you,
    Life, love, or death—or what?
Since lips that sang, I love thee,    
    Have said, I love thee not?

I think the sun’s kiss will scarce fall
    Into one flower’s gold cup;
I think the bird will miss me,
    And give the summer up.    
O sweet place, desolate in tall
    Wild grass, have you forgot
How her lips lov’d to kiss me,
    Now that they kiss me not?

Be false or fair above me;      
    Come back with any face,
Summer!—do I care what you do?
    You cannot change one place,—
The grass, the leaves, the earth, the dew,
    The grave I make the spot,—      
Here, where she used to love me,
    Here, where she loves me not.

Arthur O'Shaughnessy
from Music and Moonlight, 1874

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Newark Abbey / Thomas Love Peacock

Newark Abbey
August, 1842
with a remembrance of August, 1807
I gaze, where August's sunbeam falls
Along these grey and lonely walls,
Till in its light absorbed appears
The lapse of five-and-thirty years.

If change there be, I trace it not
In all this consecrated spot:
No new imprint of Ruin's march
On roofless wall and frameless arch:
The hills, the woods, the fields, the stream,
Are basking in the self-same beam:
The fall, that turns the unseen mill
As then it murmured, murmurs still:
It seems, as if in one were cast
The present and the imaged past,
Spanning, as with bridge sublime,
That awful lapse of human time,
That gulph, unfathomably spread
Between the living and the dead.

For all too well my spirit feels
The only change this place reveals:
The sunbeams play, the breezes stir,
Unseen, unfelt, unheard by her,
Who, on that long-past August day,
First saw with me those ruins grey.

Whatever span the fates allow,
Ere I shall be as she is now,
Still in my bosom's inmost cell
Shall that deep-treasured memory dwell:
That, more than language can express,
Pure miracle of loveliness,
Whose voice so sweet, whose eyes so bright,
Were my soul's music, and its light,
In those blest days, when life was new,
And hope was false, but love was true.

Thomas Love Peacock

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Thomas Love Peacock biography