Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Prophecy / Arthur Wentworth Eaton

Christmas Prophecy

Silvery-bearded, bent, and gray,
The Old Year passeth swift away,
Yet the ringers he keeps in his belfry tower
Peal no dirge for his waning power.

He is bidding them ring so joyously,
Can the Year of his end forgetful be ?
"Ah, no," he says, "I am old and worn
But the young Christ-life to-day is born;

"I have led the world to its Christmas-tide,
I have opened the door of Heaven wide,
And bells of the ages hung on high
Are chiming out God's charity.

"O welcome, then, the Bethlehem Boy,
Sing at his cradle songs of joy,
Wreathe for his altars holly red,
For the shames of earth at last are dead."

Arthur Wentworth Eaton
from Songs of the Christian Year, 1905

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

Arthur Wentworth Eaton biography

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Christmas Carol for 1862 / George Macdonald

A Christmas Carol For 1862

The Year Of The Trouble In Lancashire 

The skies are pale, the trees are stiff,
The earth is dull and old;
The frost is glittering as if
The very sun were cold.
And hunger fell is joined with frost,
To make men thin and wan:
Come, babe, from heaven, or we are lost;
Be born, O child of man.

The children cry, the women shake,
The strong men stare about;
They sleep when they should be awake,
They wake ere night is out.
For they have lost their heritage –
No sweat is on their brow:
Come, babe, and bring them work and wage;
Be born, and save us now.

Across the sea, beyond our sight,
Roars on the fierce debate;
The men go down in bloody fight,
The women weep and hate;
And in the right be which that may,
Surely the strife is long!
Come, son of man, thy righteous way,
And right will have no wrong.

Good men speak lies against thine own –
Tongue quick, and hearing slow;
They will not let thee walk alone,
And think to serve thee so:
If they the children's freedom saw
In thee, the children's king,
They would be still with holy awe,
Or only speak to sing.

Some neither lie nor starve nor fight,
Nor yet the poor deny;
But in their hearts all is not right,–
They often sit and sigh.
We need thee every day and hour,
In sunshine and in snow:
Child-king, we pray with all our power –
Be born, and save us so.

We are but men and women, Lord;
Thou art a gracious child!
O fill our hearts, and heap our board,
Pray thee – the winter's wild!
The sky is sad, the trees are bare,
Hunger and hate about:
Come, child, and ill deeds and ill fare
Will soon be driven out.

George Macdonald
from The Disciple, and other poems, 1867

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

George Macdonald biography

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Morn / Thomas D'Arcy McGee

Christmas Morn


Up, Christian! hark, the crowing cock
Proclaims the break of day!
Up! light the lamp, undo the lock,
And take the well-known way —
Already through the painted glass
Streams forth the light of early mass.


Our Altar! oh, how fair it shows,
Unto the night-dimm’d eyes —
Oh, surely yonder wreath that glows
Was plucked in paradise!
Without — it snows, the wind is loud,
Earth sleeps wrapped in her yearly shroud.


Within — the organ’s soaring peal,
The choir’s sweet chant, the bells,
The surging crowd who stand or kneel,
The glorious errand tells;
Rejoice! rejoice! ye sons of men,


’Tis but a step, a threshold cros’d,
Yet such the change we find —
Without the wandering worldling tost
By every gust of wind —
Within there reigns a holy calm,
For here abides the dread I AM.

Thomas D'Arcy McGee
from Canadian Ballads, and occasional verses, 1858

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Song / Bliss Carman

Christmas Song

Above the weary waiting world,
Asleep in chill despair,
There breaks a sound of joyous bells
Upon the frosted air.
And o’er the humblest rooftree, lo,
A star is dancing on the snow.

What makes the yellow star to dance
Upon the brink of night?
What makes the breaking dawn to glow
So magically bright,—
And all the earth to be renewed
With infinite beatitude?

The singing bells, the throbbing star,
The sunbeams on the snow,
And the awakening heart that leaps
New ecstasy to know,—
They all are dancing in the morn
Because a little child is born.

Bliss Carman
from April Airs: A book of lyrics, 1916

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

Bliss Carman biography

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas Lullaby / John Addington Symonds

A Christmas Lullaby

Sleep, baby, sleep! The Mother sings:
Heaven's angels kneel and fold their wings.
                            Sleep, baby, sleep!

With swathes of scented hay Thy bed
By Mary's hand at eve was spread.
                            Sleep, baby, sleep!

At midnight came the shepherds, they
Whom seraphs wakened by the way.
                            Sleep, baby, sleep!

And three kings from the East afar,
Ere dawn came, guided by the star.
                            Sleep, baby, sleep!

They brought Thee gifts of gold and gems,
Pure orient pearls, rich diadems.
                            Sleep, baby, sleep!

Thou who liest slumbering there,
Art King of Kings, earth, ocean, air.
                            Sleep, baby, sleep!

Sleep, baby, sleep! The shepherds sing:
Through heaven, through earth, hosannas ring.
                            Sleep, baby, sleep!

John Addington Symonds
from Christmas: Its origin, celebration and significance as related in prose and verse, 1907 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Addington Symonds biography

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Christmas Silence / Margaret Deland

The Christmas Silence

Hushed are the pigeons cooing low
    On dusty rafters of the loft;
    And mild-eyed oxen, breathing soft,
Sleep on the fragrant hay below.

Dim shadows in the corner hide;
    The glimmering lantern's rays are shed
    Where one young lamb just lifts his head,
Then huddles 'gainst his mother's side.

Strange silence tingles in the air;
    Through the half-open door a bar
    Of light from one low-hanging star
Touches a baby's radiant hair.

No sound: the mother, kneeling, lays
    Her cheek against the little face.
    Oh human love! Oh heavenly grace!
'Tis yet in silence that she prays!

Ages of silence end to-night;
    Then to the long-expectant earth
    Glad angels come to greet His birth
In burst of music, love, and light!

Margaret Deland
from Christmas: Its origin, celebration and significance as related in prose and verse, 1907 

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

Margaret Deland biography

Monday, December 23, 2013

Bells Across the Snow / Frances Ridley Havergal

Bells Across the Snow

O Christmas, merry Christmas!
    Is it really come again,
With its memories and greetings,
    With its joy and with its pain?
There's a minor in the carol,
    And a shadow in the light,
And a spray of cypress twining
    With the holly wreath to-night.
And the hush is never broken
    By laughter light and low,
As we listen in the starlight
    To the bells across the snow.

O Christmas, merry Christmas!
    'Tis not so very long
Since other voices blended
    With the carol and the song!
If we could but hear them singing
    As they are singing now,
If we could but see the radiance
    Of the crown on each dear brow;
There would be no sigh to smother,
    No hidden tear to flow,
As we listen in the starlight
    To the bells across the snow.

O Christmas, merry Christmas!
    This never more can be;
We cannot bring again the days
    Of our unshadowed glee.
But Christmas, happy Christmas,
    Sweet herald of good-will,
With holy songs of glory
    Brings holy gladness still.
For peace and hope may brighten,
    And patient love may glow,
As we listen in the starlight
    To the bells across the snow.

Frances Ridley Havergal
from Under the Surface, 1874

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Frances Ridley Havergal biography

Saturday, December 21, 2013

December / John Clare


Glad Christmas comes, and every hearth
   Makes room to give him welcome now,
E’en want will dry its tears in mirth,
   And crown him with a holly bough;
Though tramping ’neath a winter sky,
   O’er snowy paths and rimy stiles,
The housewife sets her spinning by
   To bid him welcome with her smiles.

Each house is swept the day before,
   And windows stuck with ever-greens,              
The snow is besom’d from the door,
And comfort crowns the cottage scenes.
Gilt holly, with its thorny pricks,
   And yew and box, with berries small,
These deck the unused candlesticks,
   And pictures hanging by the wall.

Neighbours resume their annual cheer,
   Wishing, with smiles and spirits high,
Glad Christmas and a happy year,
   To every morning passer-by;                      
Milkmaids their Christmas journeys go,
   Accompanied with favour’d swain;
And children pace the crumping snow,
   To taste their granny’s cake again.

The shepherd, now no more afraid,
   Since custom doth the chance bestow,
Starts up to kiss the giggling maid
   Beneath the branch of misletoe
That ’neath each cottage beam is seen,
   With pearl-like berries shining gay;            
The shadow still of what hath been,
   Which fashion yearly fades away.

The singing wates, a merry throng,
   At early morn, with simple skill,
Yet imitate the angels song,
   And chant their Christmas ditty still;
And, ’mid the storm that dies and swells
   By fits—in hummings softly steals
The music of the village bells,
   Ringing round their merry peals.
When this is past, a merry crew,
   Bedeck’d in masks and ribbons gay,
The “Morris-dance,” their sports renew,
   And act their winter evening play.
The clown turn’d king, for penny-praise,
   Storms with the actor’s strut and swell;
And Harlequin, a laugh to raise,
   Wears his hunch-back and tinkling bell.

And oft for pence and spicy ale,
   With winter nosegays pinn’d before,              
The wassail-singer tells her tale,
   And drawls her Christmas carols o’er.
While ’prentice boy, with ruddy face,
   And rime-bepowder’d, dancing locks,
From door to door with happy pace,
   Runs round to claim his “Christmas box.”

The block upon the fire is put,
   To sanction custom’s old desires;
And many a fagot's bands are cut,
   For the old farmers’ Christmas fires;            
Where loud-tongued Gladness joins the throng,
   And Winter meets the warmth of May,
Till feeling soon the heat too strong,
   He rubs his shins, and draws away.

While snows the window-panes bedim,
   The fire curls up a sunny charm,
Where, creaming o’er the pitcher’s rim,
   The flowering ale is set to warm;
Mirth, full of joy as summer bees,
   Sits there, its pleasures to impart,            
And children, ’tween their parent’s knees,
   Sing scraps of carols o’er by heart.

And some, to view the winter weathers,
   Climb up the window-seat with glee,
Likening the snow to falling feathers,
   In Fancy’s infant ecstasy;
Laughing, with superstitious love,
   O’er visions wild that youth supplies,
Of people pulling geese above,
   And keeping Christmas in the skies.              

As tho’ the homestead trees were drest,
   In lieu of snow, with dancing leaves;
As tho’ the sun-dried martin’s nest,
   Instead of i’cles hung the eaves;
The children hail the happy day—
   As if the snow were April’s grass,
And pleas’d, as ’neath the warmth of May,
   Sport o’er the water froze to glass.

Thou day of happy sound and mirth,
   That long with childish memory stays,            
How blest around the cottage hearth
   I met thee in my younger days!
Harping, with rapture’s dreaming joys,
   On presents which thy coming found,
The welcome sight of little toys,
   The Christmas gift of cousins round.

The wooden horse with arching head,
   Drawn upon wheels around the room;
The gilded coach of gingerbread,
   And many-colour’d sugar plum;                    
Gilt cover’d books for pictures sought,
   Or stories childhood loves to tell,
With many an urgent promise bought,
   To get to-morrow’s lesson well.

And many a thing, a minute’s sport,
   Left broken on the sanded floor,
When we would leave our play, and court
   Our parents’ promises for more.
Tho’ manhood bids such raptures die,
   And throws such toys aside as vain,              
Yet memory loves to turn her eye,
   And count past pleasures o’er again.

Around the glowing hearth at night,
   The harmless laugh and winter tale
Go round, while parting friends delight
   To toast each other o’er their ale;
The cotter oft with quiet zeal
   Will musing o’er his Bible lean;
While in the dark the lovers steal
   To kiss and toy behind the screen.  
Old customs! Oh! I love the sound,
   However simple they may be:
Whate’er with time hath sanction found,
   Is welcome, and is dear to me.
Pride grows above simplicity,
   And spurns them from her haughty mind,
And soon the poet’s song will be
   The only refuge they can find.

John Clare
from The Shepherd's Calendar, 1827

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Read The Shepherd's Calendar complete
John Clare biography

Sunday, December 15, 2013

In a drear-nighted December / John Keats

In a drear-nighted December,
   Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne'er remember
   Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
   From budding at the prime.

In a drear-nighted December,
   Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne'er remember
   Apollo's summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
   About the frozen time.

Ah! would 'twere so with many
   A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any
   Writh'd not of passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it,
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
   Was never said in rhyme.

John Keats
from The Poetical Works of John Keats, 1840

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Keats biography 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

December / Christopher Pearse Cranch


No more the scarlet maples flash and burn
Their beacon-fires from hilltop and from plain;
The meadow-grasses and the woodland fern
In the bleak woods lie withered once again.

The trees stand bare, and bare each stony scar
Upon the cliffs; half frozen glide the rills;
The steel-blue river like a scimitar
Lies cold and curved between the dusky hills.

Over the upland farm I take my walk,
And miss the flaunting flocks of golden-rod;
Each autumn flower a dry and leafless stalk,
Each mossy field a track of frozen sod.

I hear no more the robin's summer song
Through the gray network of the wintry woods;
Only the cawing crows that all day long
Clamor about the windy solitudes.

Like agate stones upon earth's frozen breast,
The little pools of ice lie round and still;
While sullen clouds shut downward east and west
In marble ridges stretched from hill to hill.

Come once again, O southern wind, – once more
Come with thy wet wings flapping at my pane;
Ere snow-drifts pile their mounds about my door,
One parting dream of summer bring again.

Ah, no! I hear the windows rattle fast;
I see the first flakes of the gathering snow,
That dance and whirl before the northern blast.
No countermand the march of days can know.

December drops no weak, relenting tear,
By our fond summer sympathies ensnared;
Nor from the perfect circle of the year
Can even winter's crystal gems be spared.

Christopher Pearse Cranch
from The Bird and the Bell, with other poems, 1875

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Christopher Pearse Cranch biography

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December / John Davidson


The heartless, sapless, dying year
     With icy fingers
Clutches the earth in mortal fear;
     And while life lingers

Within his veins that swelled with spring,
     And glowed with summer.
And now are poisoned by the sting
     Of that old-comer.

Who comes to all to end their days,
     Whom men call Death,
He breathes upon the earth's wan face
     His chilly breath,

If it may be to strike her dead
     For company;
To die alone he is afraid;
     And some there be

Of men and flowers as old and frail.
     With blood as sere,
And some both young and sweet, as pale
     As is the year,

Who will be buried in the snow
     With him to sleep;
Their souls came from and now must go
     To the unknown deep.

But those whose lives are dwelling still
     In lively frames
Are full of mirth, and take their fill
     Of works and games:

Make love, make wealth, gain fame, gain power,
     As if for ever.
Forget that life is but an hour,
     A sea-bound river,

And warm with sport laugh at the cold;
     Yet is it true
If they live long they will grow old —
     I mean not you;

Not you, nor me: we only know
     Our blood is fire
Can melt the longest winter's snow,
     And not expire.

John Davidson
from In a Music Hall, and other poems, 1891

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Davidson biography

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Autumnal Sonnet / William Allingham

Autumnal Sonnet

Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods,
And day by day the dead leaves fall and melt,
And night by night the monitory blast
Wails in the key-hold, telling how it pass'd
O'er empty fields, or upland solitudes,
Or grim wide wave; and now the power is felt
Of melancholy, tenderer in its moods
Than any joy indulgent summer dealt.
Dear friends, together in the glimmering eve,
Pensive and glad, with tones that recognise
The soft invisible dew in each one's eyes,
It may be, somewhat thus we shall have leave
To walk with memory,– when distant lies
Poor Earth, where we were wont to live and grieve.

William Allingham
from Day and Night Songs, 1854

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

William Allingham biography

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ode to the West Wind / Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ode to the West Wind


O, wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O, thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the spring shall blow

Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving every where;
Destroyer and preserver ; hear, O, hear!


Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion,
Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,

Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
On the blue surface of. thine airy surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head

Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith's height
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge

Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
Vaulted with all thy congregated might

Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: O, hear !


Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lulled by the coil of his crystalline streams,

Beside a pumice isle in Baiae's bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
Quivering within the wave's intenser day,

All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic's level powers

Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know

Thy voice, and suddenly grow grey with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: O, hear !


If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O, uncontroulable! If even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be

The comrade of thy wanderings over heaven,
As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
Scarce seemed a vision; I would ne'er have striven

As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.


Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawakened earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O, wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

Percy Bysshe Shelley
from Prometheus Unbound: A lyrical drama in four acts; with other poems, 1820

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Percy Bysshe Shelley biography

Penny's Top 20 / November 2013

Penny's Top 20

The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in November 2013:

  1.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
  2.  Penny (or Penny's Hat), George J. Dance
  3.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  4.  Night (Fall), George J. Dance 
  5.  Autumn, T.E. Hulme
  6.  Jonah, AE Reiff
A City Sunset, T.E. Hulme
  8.  Accompagnement
Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
  9.  Pro Patria Mortui
Helena Coleman
10.  Autumn, Walter de la Mare

11.  Card Game, Frank Prewett
 The Reader, Wallace Stevens
13.  Anthem for Doomed Youth, Wilfred Owen
14.  November Surf, Robinson Jeffers
Poem in October, Dylan Thomas
16.  November, John Clare
17.  When the Woods Turn Brown, Lucy Larcom

18.  Petit the Poet, Edgar Lee Masters
19.  When Summer Comes, Sophia Almon 
20.  Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November / John Clare


The landscape sleeps in mist from morn till noon;
And, if the sun looks through, 'tis with a face
Beamless and pale and round, as if the moon,
When done the journey of her nightly race,
Had found him sleeping, and supplied his place.
For days the shepherds in the fields may be,
Nor mark a patch of sky — blindfold they trace
The plains, that seem without a bush or tree,
Whistling aloud by guess, to flocks they cannot see.

The timid hare seems half its fears to lose,
Crouching and sleeping 'neath its grassy lair,
And scarcely startles, tho' the shepherd goes
Close by its home, and dogs are barking there;
The wild colt only turns around to stare
At passer by, then knaps his hide again;
And moody crows beside the road, forbear
To fly, tho' pelted by the passing swain;
Thus day seems turn'd to night, and tries to wake in vain.

The owlet leaves her hiding-place at noon,
And flaps her grey wings in the doubling light;
The hoarse jay screams to see her out so soon,
And small birds chirp and startle with affright;
Much doth it scare the superstitious wight,
Who dreams of sorry luck, and sore dismay;
While cow-boys think the day a dream of night,
And oft grow fearful on their lonely way,
Fancying that ghosts may wake, and leave their graves by day.

Yet but awhile the slumbering weather flings
Its murky prison round — then winds wake loud;
With sudden stir the startled forest sings
Winter's returning song — cloud races cloud,
And the horizon throws away its shroud,
Sweeping a stretching circle from the eye;
Storms upon storms in quick succession crowd,
And o'er the sameness of the purple sky
Heaven paints, with hurried hand, wild hues of every dye.

At length it comes among the forest oaks,
With sobbing ebbs, and uproar gathering high;
The scared, hoarse raven on its cradle croaks,
And stockdove-flocks in hurried terrors fly,
While the blue hawk hangs o'er them in the sky.—
The hedger hastens from the storm begun,
To seek a shelter that may keep him dry;
And foresters low bent, the wind to shun,
Scarce hear amid the strife the poacher's muttering gun.

The ploughman hears its humming rage begin,
And hies for shelter from his naked toil;
Buttoning his doublet closer to his chin,
He bends and scampers o'er the elting soil,
While clouds above him in wild fury boil,
And winds drive heavily the beating rain;
He turns his back to catch his breath awhile,
Then ekes his speed and faces it again,
To seek the shepherd's hut beside the rushy plain.

The boy, that scareth from the spiry wheat
The melancholy crow — in hurry weaves,
Beneath an ivied tree, his sheltering seat,
Of rushy flags and sedges tied in sheaves,
Or from the field a shock of stubble thieves.
There he doth dithering sit, and entertain
His eyes with marking the storm-driven leaves;
Oft spying nests where he spring eggs had ta'en,
And wishing in his heart 'twas summer-time again.

Thus wears the month along, in checker'd moods,
Sunshine and shadows, tempests loud, and calms;
One hour dies silent o'er the sleepy woods,
The next wakes loud with unexpected storms;
A dreary nakedness the field deforms —
Yet many a rural sound, and rural sight,
Lives in the village still about the farms,
Where toil's rude uproar hums from morn till night
Noises, in which the ears of Industry delight.

At length the stir of rural labour's still,
And Industry her care awhile foregoes;
When Winter comes in earnest to fulfil
His yearly task, at bleak November's close,
And stops the plough, and hides the field in snows;
When frost locks up the stream in chill delay,
And mellows on the hedge the jetty sloes,
For little birds — then Toil hath time for play,
And nought but threshers' flails awake the dreary day.

John Clare (1793-1864)
from The Shepherd's Calendar, 1827

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Read The Shepherd's Calendar complete
John Clare biography

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November Surf / Robinson Jeffers

November Surf

Some lucky day each November great waves awake and are drawn
Like smoking mountains bright from the west
And come and cover the cliff with white violent cleanness: then suddenly
The old granite forgets half a year’s filth:
The orange-peel, egg-shells, papers, pieces of clothing, the clots
Of dung in corners of the rock, and used
Sheaths that make light love safe in the evenings: all the droppings of the summer
Idlers washed off in a winter ecstasy:
I think this cumbered continent envies its cliff then. . . . But all seasons
The earth, in her childlike prophetic sleep,
Keeps dreaming of the bath of a storm that prepares up the long coast
Of the future to scour more than her sea-lines:
The cities gone down, the people fewer and the hawks more numerous,
The rivers mouth to source pure; when the two-footed
Mammal, being someways one of the nobler animals, regains
The dignity of room, the value of rareness.

Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)
from Thurso's Landing, and other poems, 1932

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Robinson Jeffers biography

Saturday, November 23, 2013

When the Woods Turn Brown / Lucy Larcom

When the Woods Turn Brown

How will it be when the roses fade
Out of the garden and out of the glade?
When the fresh pink bloom of the sweet-brier wild,
That leans from the dell like the cheek of a child,
Is changed for dry hips on a thorny bush?
Then scarlet and carmine the groves will flush.

How will it be when the autumn flowers
Wither away from their leafless bowers;
When sun-flower and star-flower and golden-rod
Glimmer no more from the frosted sod;
And hillside nooks are empy and cold?
Then the forest-tops will be gay with gold.

How will is be then the woods turn brown,
Their gold and their crimson all dropped down,
And crumbled to dust? O then, as we lay
Our ear to earth's lips, we shall hear her say,
"In the dark I am seeking new gems for my crown."
We will dream of green leaves when the woods turn brown.

Lucy Larcom
from Wild Roses of Cape Ann, and other poems, 1881

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Lucy Larcom biography

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Night (Fall) / George J. Dance

Night (Fall)

The grass shone emerald in the morning light,
But fades to gray now as the autumn moon
Glints off the darkened waters in the bight,
A stray reflection of some lost balloon.
The trees that I remember as so bright –
Persimmon, scarlet, orange, gold – at noon
Have dulled to tarry black and ghostly white,
While round them heaps of curled gray ash are strewn.
So all has faded that was my delight
In early hours – Now sounds are out of tune,
Shades blur, words slur, once-dear beliefs are trite
And everything that lives must die too soon.
     Nothing besides remains within my sight
     But these few pale reflections in the night.

George J. Dance

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

George J. Dance biography

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Jonah / AE Reiff


When fine gold lost its luster
and I had no breath,
when the precious gold had altered,
and waters closed over my head,
sons once worth their weight
and pots of clay the work of hands,
I called on the LORD from the depths.

AE Reiff 

Encouragements for Planting

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

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pro Patria Mortui / Helena Coleman

Pro Patria Mortui

Say not they died for us;
Say, rather, with their hearts aflame,
They faced the sceptred shame,
Not counting for themselves the cost,
Well knowing else, a world were lost.
For this they came;
For this they died;
For this their death is justified.

Say not they die;
Say, rather, with youth's larger trust,
Into the featureless, far unknown,
Challenging love's integrity,
They spring from earth's recoiling dust.
Could greater be?
Can love disown?
Can truth be overthrown?

Say not for us they died;
They touched that dimly-visioned height
The ever-enlarging soul of man
Has yet to climb; their feet outran
The world's slow gait; their spirits range
In circling fight
The unconjectured fields of light.
For this they suffered change;
For this they died;
For this their death is justified.

Helena Coleman
from Marching Men, 1917

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

Helena  Coleman biography

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Card Game / Frank Prewett

Card Game

Hearing the whine and crash
We hastened out
And found a few poor men
Lying about.

I put my hand in the breast
Of the first met.
His heart thumped, stopped, and I drew
My hand out wet.

Another, he seemed a boy,
Rolled in the mud
Screaming, "my legs, my legs,"
And he poured out his blood.

We bandaged the rest
And went in,
And started again at our cards
Where we had been.

Frank Prewett 
from Poems, 1921

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

Frank Prewett biography

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Anthem for Doomed Youth / Wilfred Owen

Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
      Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
      Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
      Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
      And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
      Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
      The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), 1917
from Poems, 1920

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

Wilfred Owen biography

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Autumn / Walter de la Mare


There is wind where the rose was,
Cold rain where sweet grass was,
And clouds like sheep
Stream o'er the steep
Grey skies where the lark was.

Nought warm where your hand was,
Nought gold where your hair was,
But phantom, forlorn,
Beneath the thorn,
Your ghost where your face was.

Cold wind where your voice was,
Tears, tears where my heart was,
And ever with me,
Child, ever with me,
Silence where hope was.

Walter de la Mare (1873-1956)
from Poems, 1906

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

Walter de la Mare biography

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A November Rose / Dollie Radford

A November Rose

You came to see me yesterday,
And plucked a rose‐bud on your way,
Do you remember?

From the sweet bush beside your gate,
I did not know it bloomed as late
As dull November.

To‐day the world is grey and old,
Around me, with the fog and cold
A dark night closes.

And I, with thoughts akin to tears,
Travel through many bygone years
Marked by your roses.

For blossoms all will soon be done,
My latter days are nearly won
For quiet reflection.

And I am tired, and you are sad,
For all the love you might have had,
And sweet protection.

But dear, from your November rose
To‐night a deeper memory grows,
Than a friend’s or lover’s.

Deep as the knowledge is to be,
When my last slumber carefully
The brown earth covers.

Dollie Radford
from Songs, and other verses, 1895

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

Dollie Radford biography

Penny's Top 20 / October 2013

Penny's Top 20

The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in October 2013:

  1.  Penny (or Penny's Hat), George J. Dance
  2.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
  3.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  4.  October, J. Lewis Milligan
  5.  Poem in October, Dylan Thomas
A City Sunset, T.E. Hulme
  7.  Petit the Poet, Edgar Lee Masters

  8.  October, John Clare

Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens
When I Heard at the Close of the Day, Walt Whitman

 The Wild Swans at Coole, William Butler Yeats
12.  Autumn Ballad, Henry Abbey
13.  Autumn in Sussex, Radclyffe Hall
14.  Autumn, T.E. Hulme

15.  The Bed of Old John Zeller, Wallace Stevens
16.  Early Autumn, Robert Bridges

17.  Penny's OS 2.0, George J. Dance

18.  And wilt thou have me fashion into speech, E. Barrett Browning 

19.  Bird Cage / Cage d'oiseau, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau

20.  A Meadow in Spring, Tom Bishop

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Poem in October / Dylan Thomas

Poem in October

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
      And the mussel pooled and the heron
                  Priested shore
            The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
            Myself to set foot
                  That second
      In the still sleeping town and set forth.

      My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
      Above the farms and the white horses
                  And I rose
            In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
            Over the border
                  And the gates
      Of the town closed as the town awoke.

      A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
      Blackbirds and the sun of October
            On the hill’s shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
            To the rain wringing
                  Wind blow cold
      In the wood faraway under me.

      Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
      With its horns through mist and the castle
                  Brown as owls
            But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
            There could I marvel
                  My birthday
      Away but the weather turned around.

      It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
      Streamed again a wonder of summer
                  With apples
            Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
            Through the parables
                  Of sun light
      And the legends of the green chapels

      And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
      These were the woods the river and sea
                  Where a boy
            In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
            And the mystery
                  Sang alive
      Still in the water and singingbirds.

      And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
      Joy of the long dead child sang burning
                  In the sun.
            It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
            O may my heart’s truth
                  Still be sung
      On this high hill in a year’s turning.

Dylan Thomas, 1945
from Deaths and Entrances, 1946

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Dylan Thomas biography

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October / James Lewis Milligan


      Sad and sober
      Monk October
Comes in russet habit clad;
      Sore relenting,
      Loud repenting –
What a merry time he's had!

      How the rafter
      Rang with Laughter
In the Sylvan woods of June!
      Now his Maying
      Turns to praying
And he chants a solemn tune.

      Base deceiver!
      He's no griever;
All his seeming sorrowing,
      All his chanting
      Is but canting:
Lift his cowl – behold the Spring!

James Lewis Millgan
from The Beckoning Skyline, and other poems, 1920

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

James Lewis Milligan biography

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Wild Swans at Coole / W.B. Yeats

The Wild Swans at Coole

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

William Butler Yeats
from The Wild Swans at Coole, 1919

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

William Butler Yeats biography

Saturday, October 19, 2013

October / John Clare


Nature now spreads around, in dreary hue,
A pall to cover all that summer knew;
Yet, in the poet’s solitary way,
Some pleasing objects for his praise delay;
Something that makes him pause and turn again,
As every trifle will his eye detain:—
The free horse rustling through the stubble field;
And cows at lair in rushes, half conceal’d;
With groups of restless sheep who feed their fill,
O’er clear’d fields rambling wheresoe’er they will;            
The hedger stopping gaps, amid the leaves,
Which time, o’er-head, in every colour weaves;
The milkmaid pausing with a timid look,
From stone to stone, across the brimming brook;
The cotter journeying with his noisy swine,
Along the wood-side where the brambles twine,
Shaking from mossy oaks the acorns brown,
Or from the hedges red haws dashing down;
The nutters, rustling in the yellow woods,
Who teaze the wild things in their solitudes;                  
The hunters, from the thicket’s avenue,
In scarlet jackets, startling on the view,
Skimming a moment o’er the russet plain,
Then hiding in the motley woods again;
The plopping gun’s sharp, momentary shock,
Which echo bustles from her cave to mock;
The bawling song of solitary boys,
Journeying in rapture o’er their dreaming joys,
Haunting the hedges in their reveries,
For wilding fruit that shines upon the trees;                  
The wild wood music from the lonely dell,
Where merry Gipseys o’er their raptures dwell,
Haunting each common’s wild and lonely nook,
Where hedges run as crooked as the brook,
Shielding their camps beneath some spreading oak,
And but discovered by the circling smoke
Puffing, and peeping up, as wills the breeze,
Between the branches of the coloured trees:—
Such are the pictures that October yields,
To please the poet as he walks the fields;                      
While Nature—like fair woman in decay,
Whom pale consumption hourly wastes away—
Upon her waning features, winter chill,
Wears dreams of beauty that seem lovely still.
Among the heath-furze still delights to dwell,
Quaking, as if with cold, the harvest bell;
And mushroom-buttons each moist morning brings,
Like spots of snow-shine in dark fairy rings.
Wild shines each hedge in autumn’s gay parade;
And, where the eldern trees to autumn fade,                    
The glossy berry picturesquely cleaves
Its swarthy bunches ’mid the yellow leaves,
On which the tootling robin feeds at will,
And coy hedge-sparrow stains its little bill.
The village dames, as they get ripe and fine,
Gather the bunches for their “eldern wine;”
Which, bottled up, becomes a rousing charm,
To kindle winter’s icy bosom warm;
And, with its merry partner, nut-brown beer,
Makes up the peasant’s Christmas-keeping cheer.                

   Like to a painted map the landscape lies;
And wild above, shine the cloud-thronged skies,
That chase each other on with hurried pace,
Like living things, as if they ran a race.
The winds, that o’er each sudden tempest brood,
Waken like spirits in a startled mood;
Flirting the sear leaves on the bleaching lea,
That litter under every fading tree;
And pausing oft, as falls the patting rain;
Then gathering strength, and twirling them again,              
Till drops the sudden calm :—the hurried mill
Is stopt at once, and every noise is still;
Save crows, that from the oak trees quawking spring,
Dashing the acorns down with beating wing,
Waking the wood’s short sleep in noises low,
Patting the crimpt brakes withering brown below;
And whirr of starling crowds, that dim the light
With mimic darkness, in their numerous flight;
Or shrilly noise of puddocks’ feeble wail,
As in slow circles round the woods they sail;                  
While huge black beetles, revelling alone,
In the dull evening hum their heavy drone.
These trifles linger through the shortening day,
To cheer the lone bard’s solitary way;
Till surly Winter comes with biting breath,
And strips the woods, and numbs the scene with death;
Then all is still o’er wood and field and plain,
As nought had been, and nought would be again.

John Clare
from The Shepherd's Calendar, 1827

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Read The Shepherd's Calendar complete
John Clare biography

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Autumn in Sussex / Radclyffe Hall

Autumn in Sussex

A glory is this autumn day,
That stretches far across the land,
To where the sea along the sand
Sings kindly, with a gentle lay
Upon its lips. The gleam and sway
Of burning leaves ignites the air
To strange soft fire; serene and bare
The wide fields lie on either hand.

Move lovely than the timid Spring
who tells her beads of humble flowers,
More perfect than the sun-warmed hours
Of summer, gay with birds that sing,
Is this fulfillment earth doth bring
To offer up to God; this deep
Vast prayer before the winter sleep,
The final tribute to His powers!

Radclyffe Hall
from Songs of Three Counties, and other poems, 1913

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

Radclyffe Hall biography

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Early Autumn / Robert Bridges

Early Autumn

So hot the noon was, with lilies the bank so gay,
     With arrowhead, pink rushes and water mint,
     And sapphire flies that darted heavenly glint,
Whether it were summer still we could not say,
Or if already autumn had owned the day,
     Aglare with smiching gaze on bloom and tint;
     And ripening all to death, old parch and stint
The last stooks down at the river as we lay.
O poisof my only August! O tears and praise
     Take now for my sweet lingering; so few more
Years of delight, swift as delight of days;
E'er fading, falling, dropping, darkening o'er
The landscape perishes round the miry ways,
     And rheumy winter snows up window and door.

Robert Bridges
from Poems by the author of 'The Growth of Love', 1879

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Robert Bridges biography

Sunday, October 6, 2013

When I Heard at the Close of the Day / Walt Whitman

When I Heard at the Close of the Day

When I heard at the close of the day how my name had been receiv’d with plaudits in the capitol, still it was not a happy night for me that follow’d;
And else, when I carous’d, or when my plans were accomplish’d, still I was not happy;
But the day when I rose at dawn from the bed of perfect health, refresh’d, singing, inhaling the ripe breath of autumn,
When I saw the full moon in the west grow pale and disappear in the morning light,
When I wander’d alone over the beach, and undressing, bathed, laughing with the cool waters, and saw the sun rise,
And when I thought how my dear friend, my lover, was on his way coming, O then I was happy;
O then each breath tasted sweeter — and all that day my food nourish’d me more — and the beautiful day pass’d well,
And the next came with equal joy — and with the next, at evening, came my friend;
And that night, while all was still, I heard the waters roll slowly continually up the shores,
I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands, as directed to me, whispering, to congratulate me,
For the one I love most lay sleeping by me under the same cover in the cool night,
In the stillness, in the autumn moonbeams, his face was inclined toward me,
And his arm lay lightly around my breast — and that night I was happy.

Walt Whitman
from Leaves of Grass, 1867

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Walt Whitman biography

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Autumn Ballad / Henry Abbey

Autumn Ballad

How mild and fair the day, dear love! and in these garden ways
The lingering dahlias to the sun their hopeless faces raise.
The buckwheat and the barley, once so bonny and so blithe,
Fall before the rhythmic labor of the cradler's gleaming scythe.

Behold the grapes and all the fruits that Autumn gives today,
As robed in red and gold, she rules, the Empress of Decay!
Out to the orchard come with me, among the apple trees;
No dragon guards the laden boughs of our Hesperides.

This golden pear, my darling, that I hold up to your mouth,
Is a hanging-nest of sweetness; but the birds are winging south.
The purses of the chestnuts, by the chilly-fingered Frost,
Were opened in his frolic, and their triple hoards are lost.

Last night you heard the tempest, love – the wind-entangled pines,
The spraying waves, the sobbing sky that lowered in gloomy lines;
The storm was like a hopeless soul, that stood beside the sea,
And wept in dismal rain and moaned for what could never be.

But the morn is rich with sunshine, though the storm may bode the snow,
All the woods in northern distance with their gold and crimson glow,
And I've come to seek you, darling, 'mong the queenly dahlias here,
That you may be my dahlia, in this Autumn of my year.

Henry Abbey
from Ralph, and other poems, 1866

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Henry Abbey biography

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Penny's Top 20 - September 2013

Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in September 2013:

  1.  Penny (or Penny's Hat), George J. Dance
  2.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  3.  In June and Gentle Oven, Anne Wilkinson
  4.  Sensation, Arthur Rimbaud 
  5.  Bird Cage / Cage d'oiseau, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
Life is but a Dream, Lewis Carroll 
Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens
Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
  9.  A Greek Idyl, Mortimer Collins

10.  Christmas Eve, Edgar Guest

 The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens
12.  A City Sunset, T.E. Hulme
13.  Solitude, Archibald Lampman
Over the Hills and Far Away, Eugene Field
15.  September 1819, William Wordsworth
The Reader, Wallace Stevens
17.  The Pines and the Sea, Christopher Pearse Cranch

18.  The Whispering Poplars, Jane Elizabeth MacDonald

19.  When summer's end is nighing, A.E. Housman

20.  September, Helen Hunt Jackson

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Over the Hills and Far Away / Eugene Field

Over the Hills and Far Away

Over the hills and far away,
A little boy steals from his morning play,
And under the blossoming apple-tree
He lies and dreams of the things to be:
Of battles fought and of victories won,
Of wrongs o'erthrown and of great deeds done –
Of the valor that he shall prove some day,
Over the hills and far away –
Over the hills and far away!

Over the hills and far away
It's, oh, for the toil of the livelong day!
But it mattereth not to the soul aflame
With a love for riches and power and fame!
On, O man! while the sun is high –
On to the certain joys that lie
Yonder where blazeth the noon of day.
Over the hills and far away –
Over the hills and far away!

Over the hills and far away
An old man lingers at close of day;
Now that his journey is almost done,
His battles fought and his victories won –
The old-time honesty and truth,
The trustfulness and the friends of youth,
Home and mother  – where are they?
Over the hills and far away –
Over the hills and far away!

Eugene Field
from Field Flowers, 1896

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Saturday, September 28, 2013

September / Helen Hunt Jackson


The golden-rod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.

The gentian's bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.

The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook.

From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes' sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.

But none of all this beauty
Which floods the earth and air
Is unto me the secret
Which makes September fair.

'T is a thing which I remember;
To name it thrills me yet:
One day of one September
I never can forget.

Helen Hunt Jackson
from Poems, 1896

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography

Sunday, September 22, 2013

When summer's end is nighing / A.E. Housman


When summer's end is nighing
And skies at evening cloud,
I muse on change and fortune
And all the feats I vowed
When I was young and proud.

The weathercock at sunset
Would lose the slanted ray,
And I would climb the beacon
That looked to Wales away
And saw the last of day.

From hill and cloud and heaven
The hues of evening died;
Night welled through lane and hollow
And hushed the countryside,
But I had youth and pride.

And I with earth and nightfall
In converse high would stand,
Late, till the west was ashen
And darkness hard at hand,
And the eye lost the land.

The year might age, and cloudy
The lessening day might close,
But air of other summers
Breathed from beyond the snows,
And I had hope of those.

They came and were and are not
And come no more anew;
And all the years and seasons
That ever can ensue
Must now be worse and few.

So here's an end of roaming
On eves when autumn nighs:
The ear too fondly listens
For summer's parting sighs,
And then the heart replies.

A.E. Housman (1859-1936)
from Last Poems, 1922

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

A.E. Housman biography

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The End of Summer / Madison Cawein

The End of Summer

Pods are the poppies, and slim spires of pods
    The hollyhocks; the balsam's pearly bredes
    Of rose-stained snow are little sacs of seeds
Collapsing at a touch; the lote, that sods
The pond with green, has changed its flowers to rods
    And discs of vesicles; and all the weeds,
    Around the sleepy water and its reeds.
Are one white smoke of seeded silk that nods.
Summer is dead, ay me! sweet Summer's dead!
    The sunset clouds have built her funeral pyre,
    Through which, e'en now, runs subterranean fire:
While from the East, as from a garden bed,
    Mist-vined, the Dusk lifts her broad moon – like some
    Great golden melon – saying, "Fall has come."

Madison Cawein
from A Voice on the Wind, and other poems, 1902

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