Sunday, November 25, 2012

In the Hand of the Wind /
Theodore Goodridge Roberts


In the Hand of the Wind

          “Lord, I am passing in the hand of the wind.”
                                                   Hafiz                  

Lord, I am passing in the wind’s lean hand:
    And now, of all my glory what will stand? –
The echo of a love song, like thin smoke
    Blown down the valleys of a kindly land.          

O green walled gardens, I have loved you so!
    Take no heed of the passing when I go.
The wind that spilled your roses yesterday
    Blows sharp upon me, heralding the snow:          

The wind that blew the yellow buds to bloom,                
    And filled with dancing gold our vine-girt room        
Where I have sung of summer and delight,
    Sings now of silence and the roses’ doom:          

The wind that kissed us yesterday, to-day
    Blows sharp upon me with a breath of clay,          
Blows cold across the vineyards in the sun
    And stills the flutter of the leaves at play.          

Lord, I am passing in the wind’s lean hand!
    And now of all my glory, what will stand?
A whisper in the vines along the wall,                
    As of a lost song in a haunted land.

~~
Theodore Goodridge Roberts (1877-1953), 1902
from The Leather Bottle, 1934

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

Theodore Goodridge Roberts biography

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I Speak Your Name / Sophie Jewett


I Speak Your Name

I speak your name in alien ways, while yet
November smiles from under lashes wet.
     In the November light I see you stand
     Who love the fading woods and withered land,
Where Peace may walk, and Death, but not Regret.

The year is slow to alter or forget;
June’s glow and autumn’s tenderness are met,
     Across the months by this swift sunlight spanned.
          I speak your name.

Because I loved your golden hair, God set
His sea between our eyes. I may not fret,
     For, sure and strong, to meet my soul’s demand,
     Comes your soul’s truth. more near than hand in hand;
And low to God, who listens, Margaret,
          I speak your name.

~~
Sophie Jewett
from The Poems of Sophie Jewett, 1910

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Sophie Jewett biography

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November / Helen Hunt Jackson


November

This is the treacherous month when autumn days
With summer's voice come bearing summer's gifts.
Beguiled, the pale down-trodden aster lifts
Her head and blooms again. The soft, warm haze
Makes moist once more the sere and dusty ways,
And, creeping through where dead leaves lie in drifts,
The violet returns. Snow noiseless sifts
Ere night, an icy shroud, which morning's rays
Will idly shine upon and slowly melt,
Too late to bid the violet live again.
The treachery, at last, too late, is plain;
Bare are the places where the sweet flowers dwelt.
What joy sufficient hath November felt?
What profit from the violet's day of pain?

~~
Helen Hunt Jackson 
from A Calendar of Sonnets, 1891 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Autumn / Thomas Nashe


Autumn

Autumn hath all the summer's fruitful treasure;
Gone is our sport, fled is poor Croydon's pleasure.
Short days, sharp days, long nights come on apace,–
Ah, who shall hide us from the winter's face?
Cold doth increase, the sickness will not cease,
And here we lie, God knows, with little ease.
From winter, plague, and pestilence, good Lord deliver us!

London doth mourn, Lambeth is quite forlorn;
Trades cry, Woe worth that ever they were born.
The want of term is town and city's harm;
Close chambers we do want to keep us warm.
Long banished must we live from our friends;
This low-built house will bring us to our ends.
From winter, plague, and pestilence, good Lord deliver us!

~~
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, November 11, 2012

The March of the Dead / Robert W. Service


The March of the Dead 

The cruel war was over – oh, the triumph was so sweet!
We watched the troops returning, through our tears;
There was triumph, triumph, triumph down the scarlet glittering street,
And you scarce could hear the music for the cheers.
And you scarce could see the house-tops for the flags that flew between;
The bells were pealing madly to the sky;
And everyone was shouting for the Soldiers of the Queen,
And the glory of an age was passing by.

And then there came a shadow, swift and sudden, dark and drear;
The bells were silent, not an echo stirred.
The flags were drooping sullenly, the men forgot to cheer;
We waited, and we never spoke a word.
The sky grew darker, darker, till from out the gloomy rack
There came a voice that checked the heart with dread:
"Tear down, tear down your bunting now, and hang up sable black;
They are coming – it's the Army of the Dead."

They were coming, they were coming, gaunt and ghastly, sad and slow;
They were coming, all the crimson wrecks of pride;
With faces seared, and cheeks red smeared, and haunting eyes of woe,
And clotted holes the khaki couldn't hide.
Oh, the clammy brow of anguish! the livid, foam-flecked lips!
The reeling ranks of ruin swept along!
The limb that trailed, the hand that failed, the bloody finger tips!
And oh, the dreary rhythm of their song!

"They left us on the veldt-side, but we felt we couldn't stop
On this, our England's crowning festal day;
We're the men of Magersfontein, we're the men of Spion Kop,
Colenso – we're the men who had to pay.
We're the men who paid the blood-price. Shall the grave be all our gain?
You owe us. Long and heavy is the score.
Then cheer us for our glory now, and cheer us for our pain,
And cheer us as ye never cheered before."

The folks were white and stricken, and each tongue seemed weighted with lead;
Each heart was clutched in hollow hand of ice;
And every eye was staring at the horror of the dead,
The pity of the men who paid the price.
They were come, were come to mock us, in the first flush of our peace;
Through writhing lips their teeth were all agleam;
They were coming in their thousands – oh, would they never cease!
I closed my eyes, and then – it was a dream.

There was triumph, triumph, triumph down the scarlet gleaming street;
The town was mad; a man was like a boy.
A thousand flags were flaming where the sky and city meet;
A thousand bells were thundering the joy.
There was music, mirth and sunshine; but some eyes shone with regret;
And while we stun with cheers our homing braves,
O God, in Thy great mercy, let us nevermore forget
The graves they left behind, the bitter graves.

~~
Robert W. Service
from Songs of a Sourdough, 1907

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

Robert W. Service biography

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Garden / Sara Teasdale


The Garden

My heart is a garden tired with autumn,
   Heaped with bending asters and dahlias heavy and dark,
In the hazy sunshine, the garden remembers April,
   The drench of rains and a snow-drop quick and clear as a spark;

Daffodils blowing in the cold wind of morning,
   And golden tulips, goblets holding the rain—
The garden will be hushed with snow, forgotten soon, forgotten—
   After the stillness, will spring come again?

~~
Sara Teasdale
from Flame and Shadow, 1920

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

Sara Teasdale biography

Sunday, November 4, 2012

That time of year thou mayst in me behold /
William Shakespeare


LXXIII

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
    This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
    To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

~~
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 73

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Autumn Rain / D.H. Lawrence


Autumn Rain

The plane leaves
fall black and wet
on the lawn;

The cloud sheaves
in heaven's fields set
droop and are drawn

in falling seeds of rain;
the seed of heaven
on my face

falling – I hear again
like echoes even
that softly pace

Heaven's muffled floor,
the winds that tread
out all the grain

of tears, the store
harvested
in the sheaves of pain

caught up aloft:
the sheaves of dead
men that are slain

now winnowed soft
on the floor of heaven;
manna invisible

of all the pain
here to us given;
finely divisible
falling as rain.

~~
D.H. Lawrence
from Look! We have come through!, 1919

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

D.H. Lawrence biography

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Penny's Top 20 / October 2012


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

  1.   Men Made Out of Words, Wallace Stevens
  2.  Penny (or Penny's Hat), George Dance 
  3.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  4.  A City Sunset, T.E. Hulme
  5.  Mnemosyne, Trumbull Stickney
  6.  At the Year's Turn, Francis Sherman
  7.  An Evening in October, Sophia Almon Hensley
  8.  The Fall of the Leaf, Dante Gabriel Rossetti

  9.  
The Reader, Wallace Stevens
10.  The Modern Politician, Archibald Lampman


11.  The Bed of Old John Zeller, Wallace Stevens

12.  The Autumn Thistles, Charles G.D. Roberts
13.  Fall, Leaves, Fall, Emily Bronte
14.  Afterglow, George Dance

15.  
Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens
16.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy

17.  Among the Rocks, Robert Browning

18.  London, F.S. Flint

19.  October, Helen Hunt Jackson

20. Nebula, Desi Di Nardo


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