Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Day / Oscar Wilde

Easter Day

The silver trumpets rang across the Dome:
The people knelt upon the ground with awe:
And borne upon the necks of men I saw,
Like some great God, the Holy Lord of Rome.
Priest-like, he wore a robe more white than foam,
And, king-like, swathed himself in royal red,
Three crowns of gold rose high upon his head:
In splendour and in light the Pope passed home.
My heart stole back across wide wastes of years
To One who wandered by a lonely sea,
And sought in vain for any place of rest:
'Foxes have holes, and every bird its nest,
I, only I, must wander wearily,
And bruise my feet, and drink wine salt with tears.'

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
from Poems, 1881

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Oscar Wilde biography

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Week / Joyce Kilmer

Easter Week

(In memory of Joseph Mary Plunkett)

          "Romantic Ireland's dead and gone, 
           It's with O'Leary in the grave."
                             — William Butler Yeats.

"Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
    It's with O'Leary in the grave."
Then, Yeats, what gave that Easter dawn
    A hue so radiantly brave?

There was a rain of blood that day,
    Red rain in gay blue April weather.
It blessed the earth till it gave birth
    To valour thick as blooms of heather.

Romantic Ireland never dies!
    O'Leary lies in fertile ground,
And songs and spears throughout the years
    Rise up where patriot graves are found.

Immortal patriots newly dead
    And ye that bled in bygone years,
What banners rise before your eyes?
    What is the tune that greets your ears?

The young Republic's banners smile
    For many a mile where troops convene.
O'Connell street is loudly sweet
    With strains of Wearing of the Green.

The soil of Ireland throbs and glows
    With life that knows the hour is here
To strike again like Irishmen
    For that which Irishmen hold dear.

Lord Edward leaves his resting place
    And Sarsfield's face is glad and fierce.
See Emmet leap from troubled sleep
    To grasp the hand of Padraic Pearse!

There is no rope can strangle song
    And not for long death takes his toll.
No prison bars can dim the stars
    Nor quicklime eat the living soul.

Romantic Ireland is not old.
    For years untold her youth shall shine.
Her heart is fed on Heavenly bread,
    The blood of martyrs is her wine.

Joyce Kilmer
from Main Street and other poems, 1917

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

Friday, March 29, 2013

In Memoriam (Easter, 1915) / Edward Thomas

6. IV. 15

The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.

Edward Thomas
from Poems, 1917.

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

Edward Thomas biography

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Donkey / G.K. Chesterton

The Donkey

When fishes flew and forests walked,
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood,
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry,
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
Of all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient, crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

G.K. Chesterton 1874-1936)
from The Wild Knight, and other poems, 1900

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

G.K. Chesterton biography

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Before Spring / Alice Duer Miller

Before Spring

Fare you well, who love the highways,
Love the cities, tall and bright,
For the forest ways are my ways,
And the birds' songs my delight,
And the stars in river byways
Are my only lamps by night.

I shall see the Spring awaking
While you think it winter still,
Watch the brittle ice forsaking
Edge of marsh and pool and rill,
And the little willows making
Yellow mists against the hill.

Go you to the things you care for,
Violins with trembling string,
Jewels that men do and dare for,
Every lovely, man-wrought thing;
They have caught your spirit, therefore
You have left me ere the Spring.

Alice Duer Miller
from Wings in the Night, 1918

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

Alice Duer Miller biography

Sunday, March 17, 2013

End of Winter in Long Island / Marjory Nicholls

End of Winter in Long Island

Ice-sheets like thinnest glass;
Small drifts of melting snow;
Weight of winter lifting from the wan, tired grass;
     Tree-twigs that show
Small nobbiness of buds about to break.
     High in the clear, pale sky,
     No bird I see on wing,
     Prescient of the Spring,
But aeroplanes that pass with busy whirr –
Noise dominant above the quietude
     Of Nature's stir,
(Soft, ah, soft) in the earth beneath
Half-frightened still by Winter's chilly breath.

Marjory Nicholls
from Thirdly, 1930

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

Marjory Nicholls biography

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March / John Clare


March, month of “many weathers,” wildly comes
In hail, and snow, and rain, and threatening hums,
And floods;— while often at his cottage-door
The shepherd stands, to hear the distant roar
Loosed from the rushing mills and river-locks,
With thundering sound and overpowering shocks.                  
From bank to bank, along the meadow lea,
The river spreads, and shines a little sea;
While, in the pale sunlight, a watery brood
Of swopping white birds flock about the flood.                    

   Yet Winter seems half weary of his toil;
And round the ploughmen, on the elting soil,
Will thread a minute’s sunshine wild and warm,
Through the ragg’d places of the swimming storm;
And oft the shepherd in his path will spy
The little daisy in the wet grass lie,
That to the peeping sun uncloses gay,
Like Labour smiling on a holiday;
And where the steep bank fronts the southern sky,
By lanes or brooks where sunbeams love to lie,                    
A cowslip-peep will open faintly coy,
Soon seen and gather’d by a wondering boy.

   A tale of Spring around the distant haze
Seems muttering pleasures with the lengthening days;
Morn wakens mottled oft with May-day stains;
And shower-drops hang the grassy sprouting plains,
Or on the naked thorns of brassy hue
Drip glistening, like a summer-dream of dew.
The woodman, in his pathway down the wood,
Crushes with hasty feet full many a bud                          
Of early primrose; yet if timely spied,
Shelter’d some old half-rotten stump beside,
The sight will cheer his solitary hour,
And urge his feet to stride and save the flower.
The hedger’s toils oft scare the doves, that browze
The chocolate berries on the ivy boughs,
Or flocking fieldfares, speckled like the thrush,
Picking the berry from the hawthorn bush,
That come and go on Winter’s chilling wing,
And seem to share no sympathy with Spring.                        
The ploughmen now along the doughy sloughs
Will often stop their songs, to clean their ploughs
From teasing twitch, that in the spongy soil
Clings round the coulter, interrupting toil.
The sower o’er his heavy hopper leans,
Strewing with swinging arms the pattering beans,
Which, soon as April’s milder weather gleams,
Will shoot up green between the furrow’d seams.
The driving boy, glad when his steps can trace
The swelling headland as a resting-place,                        
Flings from his clotted shoes the dirt around,
And fain would rest him on the solid ground.
Not far behind them struts the nauntly crow,
And daw, whose head seems powder’d o’er with snow,
Seeking the worms: the rook, a noisy guest,
That on the wind-rock’d elms prepares her nest,
On the fresh furrow often drops, to pull
The twitching roots, or gather sticks and wool,
From trees whose dead twigs litter to the wind,
And gaps where stray sheep left their coats behind;              
While ground-larks, on a swinging clump of rushes,
Or on the top twigs of the scatter’d bushes,
Chirp their “cree-creery” note, that sounds of Spring;
And sky-larks meet the sun with fluttering wing.

   The shepherd-boy, that hastens now and then
From hail and snow beneath his sheltering den
Of flags, or file-leaved sedges tied in sheaves,
Or stubble shocks, oft as his eye perceives
Sun-threads shrink out in momentary smiles,
With fairy thoughts his loneliness beguiles;                      
Thinking the struggling Winter howling by,
As down the edges of the distant sky
The hail-storm sweeps;— and while he stops to strip
The stooping hedgebriar of its lingering hip,
He hears the wild geese gabble o’er his head;
Then, pleased with fancies in his musings bred,
He marks the figured forms in which they fly,
And pausing, follows with a wondering eye,
Likening their curious march, in curves or rows,
To every letter which his memory knows;                          
While, far above, the solitary crane
Swings lonely to unfrozen dykes again,
Cranking a jarring melancholy cry
Through the wild journey of the cheerless sky.

   Often, at early seasons, mild and fair
March bids farewell, with garlands in her hair
Of hazel tassels, woodbine’s bushy sprout,
And sloe and wild-plum blossoms peeping out
In thick-set knots of flowers, preparing gay,
For April’s reign, a mockery of May.                              
The old dame then oft stills her humming wheel —
When the bright sun-beams through the windows steal
And gleam upon her face, and dancing fall
In diamond shadows on the pictur’d wall;
While the white butterfly, as in amaze,
Will settle on the glossy glass to gaze —
And smiling, glad to see such things once more,
Up she will get and totter to the door,
And look upon the trees beneath the eaves —
Sweetbriar and lad’s-love — swelling into leaves;                  
And, stooping down, cull from her garden beds
The early blossoms perking out their heads,
In flower-pots on the window-board to stand,
Where the old hour-glass spins its thread of sand.
And while the passing clown remarks, with pride,
Days lengthen in their visits a “cock’s stride,”
She cleans her candlesticks and sets them by,
Glad of the make-shift light that eves supply!

   The boy, retiring home at night from toil,
Down lane and close, o’er footbrig, gate, and stile,              
Oft trembles into fear, and stands to hark
The waking fox renew his short gruff bark;
And shepherds — that within their hulks remain
Night after night upon the chilly plain,
To watch the dropping lambs, that at all hours
Come in the quaking blast like tender flowers —
When in the nightly watch they chance to hear
The badger’s shrieks, can hardly stifle fear;
Likening the cry, from woodland’s dark recess,
To that of helpless woman in distress:                
For Superstition hath a thousand tales
To people all her midnight woods and vales;—
And the dread spot from whence the dismal noise
Mars the night-musings of their dark employs,
Owns its sad tale to realize their fear —
A tale their hearts in boyhood ached to hear.
A maid, at night, by treacherous love decoy’d,
Was in that shrieking wood, years past, destroy’d.
She went, ’twas said, to meet the waiting swain;
But home and friends ne’er saw her face again!                    
’Mid brake and thorns that crowded round the dell,
And matting weeds that had no tongue to tell,
He murder’d her alone at dead midnight,
While the pale moon threw round her sickly light.
Loud screams assail’d the thicket’s slumbers deep,
But only scared the little birds from sleep;
When the pale murderer’s terror-frowning eye
Told its dread errand — that the maid should die.—
’Mid thick black thorns her secret grave was made;
And there the unresisting corpse was laid,                        
When no one saw the deed but God and he,
And moonlight sparkling through the sleeping tree.
The Robin-redbreast might at morning steal
There, for the worm to meet his early meal,
In fresh-turn’d moulds which first beheld the sun —
Nor know the deed that dismal night had done.
Such is the tale that Superstition gives;
Which in her midnight memory ever lives;
Which makes the boy run by with wild affright,
And shepherds startle on their rounds at night.                    

   Now love-teazed maidens, from the droning wheel,
At the red hour of sun-set, slily steal
From scolding dames, to meet their swains again;
Though water checks their visits o’er the plain:
They slive where no one sees, some wall behind,
Or orchard apple-tree that stops the wind,
To talk about Spring’s pleasures hovering nigh,
And happy rambles when the roads get dry.

   The insect-world, now sunbeams higher climb,
Oft dream of Spring, and wake before their time.                  
Bees stroke their little legs across their wings,
And venture short flights where the snow-drop hings
Its silver bell, and winter aconite
Its butter-cup-like flowers that shut at night,
With green leaf furling round its cup of gold,
Like tender maiden muffled from the cold:
They sip, and find their honey-dreams are vain,
Then feebly hasten to their hives again.—
The butterflies, by eager hopes undone,
Glad as a child come out to greet the sun,                        
Beneath the shadow of a sudden shower
Are lost — nor see to-morrow’s April flower.

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, March 10, 2013

The Poems of Our Climate / Wallace Stevens

The Poems of Our Climate


Clear water in a brilliant bowl,
Pink and white carnations. The light
In the room more like a snowy air,
Reflecting snow. A newly-fallen snow
At the end of winter when afternoons return.
Pink and white carnations - one desires
So much more than that. The day itself
Is simplified: a bowl of white,
Cold, a cold porcelain, low and round,
With nothing more than the carnations there.


Say even that this complete simplicity
Stripped one of all one's torments, concealed
The evilly compounded, vital I
And made it fresh in a world of white,
A world of clear water, brilliant-edged,
Still one would want more, one would need more,
More than a world of white and snowy scents.


There would still remain the never-resting mind,
So that one would want to escape, come back
To what had been so long composed.
The imperfect is our paradise.
Note that, in this bitterness, delight,
Since the imperfect is so hot in us,
Lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds.

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), 1938
from Parts of a World, 1942

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Wallace Stevens biography

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Two poems by R.K. Singh


My shrinking body
even if I donate
what's there for research?

devil in the spine
abusing tongue in sleep
or bleeding anus

defy all prayers
on bed or in temple 
the same heresy

oozing and stinking
onanist excursion
dead or alive

- R/K. Singh, 2013


They make my face
ugly in my own sight
what shall I see in the mirror?

there is no beauty
or holiness left
in the naked nation:

the streams flow dark
and the hinges of doors moan
politics of corruption

I weep for its names
and the faces they deface
with clay dreams

- R.K. Singh, 2013

[All rights reserved - used with permission]

R.K. Singh biography
Other poems by R.K. Singh

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A March Day in London / Amy Levy

A March Day in London

The east wind blows in the street to-day;
The sky is blue, yet the town looks grey.
'Tis the wind of ice, the wind of fire,
Of cold despair and of hot desire,
Which chills the flesh to aches and pains,
And sends a fever through all the veins.

From end to end, with aimless feet,
All day long have I paced the street.
My limbs are weary, but in my breast
Stirs the goad of a mad unrest.
I would give anything to stay
The little wheel that turns in my brain;
The little wheel that turns all day,
That turns all night with might and main.

What is the thing I fear, and why?
Nay, but the world is all awry--
The wind's in the east, the sun's in the sky.
The gas-lamps gleam in a golden line;
The ruby lights of the hansoms shine,
Glance, and flicker like fire-flies bright;
The wind has fallen with the night,
And once again the town seems fair
Thwart the mist that hangs i' the air.

And o'er, at last, my spirit steals
A weary peace ; peace that conceals
Within its inner depths the grain
Of hopes that yet shall flower again.

Amy Levy
from A London Plane-Tree, and other verse, 1889.

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Amy Levy biography

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Winters are so short / Emily Dickinson

The Winters are so short –
I'm hardly justified
In sending all the Birds away –
And moving into Pod –

Myself – for scarcely settled –
The Phoebes have begun –
And then – it's time to strike my Tent –
And open House – again –

It's mostly, interruptions –
My Summer – is despoiled –
Because there was a Winter – once –
And all the Cattle – starved –

And so there was a Deluge –
And swept the World away –
But Ararat's a Legend – now –
And no one credits Noah –

Emily Dickinson (1830-1866)

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Emily Dickinson biography

Friday, March 1, 2013

Penny's Top 20 / February 2013

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

  1.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  2.  Penny (or Penny's Hat), George Dance
  3.  Men Made Out of Words, Wallace Stevens
  4. Chaos in Motion and Not in Motion, Wallace Stevens  
  5.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
  6.  The Bells, Edgar Allan Poe
  7.  When Summer Comes, Sophia Almon Hensley

  8.  The Winter's Wind, John Keats

  9.  February, John Clare

If thou must love me, Elizabeth Barret Browning

Accompaniment / Accompagnement, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
12.  Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens
13.  The Snow-Fairy, Claude McKay
14.  Snow-flakes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

15.  The Hawk, Raymond Knister

16.  November, F.W. Harvey

17.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens

18.  The Quiet Snow, Raymond Knister

19.  The Sleigh-Bells, Susannah Moodie

The Blue Heron, Theodore Goodridge Roberts

Source: Blogger, "Stats"