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

Sunday, September 2, 2012

In the Shadows / Pauline Johnson

In the Shadows

I am sailing to the leeward,
Where the current runs to seaward
Soft and slow,
Where the sleeping river grasses
Brush my paddle as it passes
To and fro.

On the shore the heat is shaking
All the golden sands awaking
In the cove;
And the quaint sand-piper, winging
O'er the shallows, ceases singing
When I move.

On the water's idle pillow
Sleeps the overhanging willow,
Green and cool;
Where the rushes lift their burnished
Oval heads from out the tarnished
Emerald pool.

Where the very silence slumbers,
Water lilies grow in numbers,
Pure and pale;
All the morning they have rested,
Amber crowned, and pearly crested,
Fair and frail.

Here, impossible romances,
Indefinable sweet fancies,
Cluster round;
But they do not mar the sweetness
Of this still September fleetness
With a sound.

I can scarce discern the meeting
Of the shore and stream retreating,
So remote;
For the laggard river, dozing,
Only wakes from its reposing
Where I float.

Where the river mists are rising,
All the foliage baptizing
With their spray;
There the sun gleams far and faintly,
With a shadow soft and saintly,
In its ray.

And the perfume of some burning
Far-off brushwood, ever turning
To exhale
All its smoky fragrance dying,
In the arms of evening lying,
Where I sail.

My canoe is growing lazy,
In the atmosphere so hazy,
While I dream;
Half in slumber I am guiding,
Eastward indistinctly gliding
Down the stream.

Pauline Johnson
from Songs of the Great Dominion, 1889

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Pauline Johnson biography

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fair Summer Droops / Thomas Nashe

Fair Summer Droops

Fair summer droops, droop men and beasts therefore,
So fair a summer look for nevermore:
    All good things vanish less than in a day,
    Peace, plenty, pleasure, suddenly decay.
        Go not yet hence, bright soul of the sad year,
        The earth is hell when thou leav’st to appear.

What, shall those flowers that decked thy garland erst,
Upon thy grave be wastefully dispersed?
    O trees, consume your sap in sorrow’s source,
    Streams, turn to tears your tributary course.
        Go not yet hence, bright soul of the sad year,
        The earth is hell when thou leav’st to appear.

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

[Poem is in the public domain]

Thomas Nashe biography
Summer's Last Will and Testament