Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Call of the Green / Laurence Alma-Tadema

The Call of the Green

O who would dwell in the dingy town
      When June is fair and green?
O who would stay in the chimneyed town
      Where brooks are never seen?
   Come! roses blow: sweet flower
   Will snow the virgin's-bower:
The shaded lane, the woodland wild,
Are better both for man and child.

O who would live in the narrow street
      When skies are broad and free?
O who would bide in the stony street
      When the sun is on the sea?
   Come! leave the dust and hasten
   To the breath of winds that chasten:
The surging waves, the starry span,
Are better both for child and man.

Laurence Alma-Tadema
from Songs of Womanhood, 1913

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

Laurence Alma-Tadema biography

Saturday, June 29, 2013

June / John Clare


Now Summer is in flower, and Nature’s hum
Is never silent round her bounteous bloom;
Insects, as small as dust, have never done
With glitt’ring dance, and reeling in the sun;
And green wood-fly, and blossom-haunting bee,
Are never weary of their melody.
Round field and hedge, flowers in full glory twine,
Large bind-weed bells, wild hop, and streak’d woodbine,
That lift athirst their slender throated flowers,
Agape for dew-falls, and for honey showers;            
These o’er each bush in sweet disorder run,
And spread their wild hues to the sultry sun.
The mottled spider, at eve’s leisure, weaves
His webs of silken lace on twigs and leaves,
Which ev’ry morning meet the poet’s eye,              
Like fairies’ dew-wet dresses hung to dry.
The wheat swells into ear, and hides below
The May-month wild flowers and their gaudy show,
Leaving, a school-boy’s height, in snugger rest,
The leveret’s seat, and lark, and partridge nest.      

   The mowers now bend o’er the beaded grass,
Where oft the gipsy’s hungry journeying ass
Will turn his wishes from the meadow paths,
List’ning the rustle of the falling swaths.
The ploughman sweats along the fallow vales,
And down the sun-crack’d furrow slowly trails;
Oft seeking, when athirst, the brook’s supply,
Where, brushing eagerly the bushes by
For coolest water, he disturbs the rest
Of ring-dove, brooding o’er its idle nest.            
The shepherd’s leisure hours are over now;
No more he loiters ’neath the hedge-row bough,        
On shadow-pillowed banks and lolling stile;
The wilds must lose their summer friend awhile.
With whistle, barking dogs, and chiding scold,
He drives the bleating sheep from fallow fold
To wash-pools, where the willow shadows lean,
Dashing them in, their stained coats to clean;
Then, on the sunny sward, when dry again,
He brings them homeward to the clipping pen,          
Of hurdles form’d, where elm or sycamore
Shut out the sun—or to some threshing-floor.
There with the scraps of songs, and laugh, and tale,
He lightens annual toil, while merry ale
Goes round, and glads some old man’s heart to praise
The threadbare customs of his early days:
How the high bowl was in the middle set
At breakfast time, when clippers yearly met,
Fill’d full of furmety, where dainty swum
The streaking sugar and the spotting plum.            
The maids could never to the table bring
The bowl, without one rising from the ring
To lend a hand; who, if ’twere ta’en amiss,
Would sell his kindness for a stolen kiss.
The large stone pitcher in its homely trim,
And clouded pint-horn with its copper rim,
Were there; from which were drunk, with spirits high,
Healths of the best the cellar could supply;
While sung the ancient swains, in uncouth rhymes,
Songs that were pictures of the good old times.        
Thus will the old man ancient ways bewail,
Till toiling shears gain ground upon the tale,
And break it off—for now the timid sheep,
His fleece shorn off, starts with a fearful leap,
Shaking his naked skin with wond’ring joys,
While others are brought in by sturdy boys.

   Though fashion’s haughty frown hath thrown aside
Half the old forms simplicity supplied,
Yet there are some pride’s winter deigns to spare,
Left like green ivy when the trees are bare.          
And now, when shearing of the flocks is done,
Some ancient customs, mix’d with harmless fun,
Crown the swain’s merry toils. The timid maid,
Pleased to be praised, and yet of praise afraid,
Seeks the best flowers; not those of woods and fields,
But such as every farmer’s garden yields —
Fine cabbage-roses, painted like her face;            
The shining pansy, trimm’d with golden lace;
The tall topp’d larkheels, feather’d thick with flowers;
The woodbine, climbing o’er the door in bowers;        
The London tufts, of many a mottled hue;
The pale pink pea, and monkshood darkly blue:
The white and purple gilliflowers, that stay
Ling’ring, in blossom, summer half away;
The single blood-walls, of a luscious smell,
Old-fashion’d flowers which housewives love so well;
The columbines, stone-blue, or deep night-brown,
Their honeycomb-like blossoms hanging down,
Each cottage-garden’s fond adopted child,
Though heaths still claim them, where they yet grow wild;
With marjoram knots, sweet-brier, and ribbon-grass,    
And lavender, the choice of ev’ry lass,
And sprigs of lad’s-love—all familiar names,
Which every garden through the village claims.
These the maid gathers with a coy delight,
And ties them up, in readiness for night;
Then gives to ev’ry swain, ’tween love and shame,      
Her “clipping posies” as his yearly claim.
He rises, to obtain the custom’d kiss:—
With stifled smiles, half hankering after bliss,
She shrinks away, and blushing, calls it rude;        
Yet turns to smile, and hopes to be pursued;
While one, to whom the hint may be applied,
Follows to gain it, and is not denied.
The rest the loud laugh raise, to make it known,—
She blushes silent, and will not disown!
Thus ale, and song, and healths, and merry ways,
Keep up a shadow still of former days;
But the old beechen bowl, that once supplied
The feast of furmety, is thrown aside;
And the old freedom that was living then,              
When masters made them merry with their men;
When all their coats alike were russet brown,
And his rude speech was vulgar as their own —
All this is past, and soon will pass away
The time-torn remnant of the holiday.

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, June 23, 2013

In Summer / Paul Laurence Dunbar

In Summer

Oh, summer has clothed the earth
In a cloak from the loom of the sun!
And a mantle, too, of the skies' soft blue,
And a belt where the rivers run.

And now for the kiss of the wind,
And the touch of the air's soft hands,
With the rest from strife and the heat of life,
With the freedom of lakes and lands.

I envy the farmer's boy
Who sings as he follows the plow;
While the shining green of the young blades lean
To the breezes that cool his brow.

He sings to the dewy morn,
No thought of another's ear;
But the song he sings is a chant for kings
And the whole wide world to hear.

He sings of the joys of life,
Of the pleasures of work and rest,
From an o'erfull heart, without aim or art;
'T is a song of the merriest.

O ye who toil in the town,
And ye who moil in the mart,
Hear the artless song, and your faith made strong
Shall renew your joy of heart.

Oh, poor were the worth of the world
If never a song were heard,—
If the sting of grief had no relief,
And never a heart were stirred.

So, long as the streams run down,
And as long as the robins trill,
Let us taunt old Care with a merry air,
And sing in the face of ill.

Paul Laurence Dunbar
from Lyrics of the Hearthside, 1899

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Paul Laurence Dunbar biography

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ballade of Midsummer Days and Nights /
William Ernest Henley

Ballade of Midsummer Days and Nights

With a ripple of leaves and a tinkle of streams
The full world rolls in a rhythm of praise,
And the winds are one with the clouds and beams —
Midsummer days! Midsummer days!
The dusk grows vast; in a purple haze,
While the West from a rapture of sunset rights,
Faint stars their exquisite lamps upraise —
Midsummer nights! O midsummer nights!

The wood's green heart is a nest of dreams,
The lush grass thickens and springs and sways,
The rathe wheat rustles, the landscape gleams —
Midsummer days! Midsummer days!
In the stilly fields, in the stilly ways,
All secret shadows and mystic lights,
Late lovers murmur and linger and gaze —
Midsummer nights! O midsummer nights!

There's a music of bells from the trampling teams,
Wild skylarks hover, the gorses blaze,
The rich, ripe rose as with incense steams —
Midsummer days! Midsummer days!
A soul from the honeysuckle strays,
And the nightingale as from prophet heights
Sings to the Earth of her million Mays —
Midsummer nights! O midsummer nights!


And it's O, for my dear and the charm that stays —
Midsummer days! Midsummer days!
It's O, for my Love and the dark that plights —
Midsummer nights! O midsummer nights!

William Ernest Henley
from A Book of Verses, 1893

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

William Ernest Henley biography

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A June-Tide Echo / Amy Levy

A June-Tide Echo

(After a Richter concert)

In the long, sad time, when the sky was grey,
And the keen blast blew through the city drear,
When delight had fled from the night and the day,
My chill heart whispered, "June will be here!

"June with its roses a-sway in the sun,
Its glory of green on mead and tree."
Lo, now the sweet June-tide is nearly done,
June-tide, and never a joy for me

Is it so much of the gods that I pray?
Sure craved man never so slight a boon!
To be glad and glad in my heart one day 
One perfect day of the perfect June.

Sweet sounds to-night rose up, wave upon wave;
Sweet dreams were afloat in the balmy air.
This is the boon of the gods that I crave 
To be glad, as the music and night were fair.

For once, for one fleeting hour, to hold
The fair shape the music that rose and fell
Revealed and concealed like a veiling fold;
To catch for an instant the sweet June spell.

For once, for one hour, to catch and keep
The sweet June secret that mocks my heart;
Now lurking calm, like a thing asleep,
Now hither and thither with start and dart.

Then the sick, slow grief of the weary years,
The slow, sick grief and the sudden pain;
The long days of labour, the nights of tears 
No more these things would I hold in vain.

I would hold my life as a thing of worth;
Pour praise to the gods for a precious thing.
Lo, June in her fairness is on earth,
And never a joy does the niggard bring.

Amy Levy
from A Minor Poet, and other verse, 1884

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Amy Levy biography

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Memory of June / Claude McKay

A Memory of June

When June comes dancing o'er the death of May,
With scarlet roses tinting her green breast,
And mating thrushes ushering in her day,
And Earth on tiptoe for her golden guest,

I always see the evening when we met 
The first of June baptized in tender rain 
And walked home through the wide streets, gleaming wet,
Arms locked, our warm flesh pulsing with love's pain.

I always see the cheerful little room,
And in the corner, fresh and white, the bed,
Sweet scented with a delicate perfume,
Wherein for one night only we were wed;

Where in the starlit stillness we lay mute,
And heard the whispering showers all night long,
And your brown burning body was a lute
Whereon my passion played his fevered song.

When June comes dancing o'er the death of May,
With scarlet roses staining her fair feet,
My soul takes leave of me to sing all day
A love so fugitive and so complete.

Claude McKay (1889-1948)
from Spring in New Hampshire, and other poems, 1920

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

Claude McKay biography

Sunday, June 9, 2013

In June / Albert E.S. Smythe

In June

Oh! Wearily and wearily the days
     Have worn themselves from winter into June,
For tardily and tediously delays
     The summer's perfect loveliness of noon.
The sun that soars in heat and sinks in haze,
     The flowers that wrap themselves in scent and swoon,
The wind that hardly goes and hardly stays,
     The lazy birds that chirp a slothful tune,
The quiet rippling water running by,
     The leaves that rustle loosely overhead,
All peacefully I ponder as I lie
     Long thinking in my shady grass-grown bed,
And musing on them for a pastime try
     To realize the winter world instead,
And this seems like a dream before we die,
     And that is like a dream of lying dead.

Albert E.S. Smythe
from Poems Grave and Gay, 1891

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

Albert E.S. Smythe biography

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bramble-Hill / William Allingham


Not much to find, not much to see,
But the air is fresh, the path is free
On a lonely Hill where bramble grows
In tangling clumps, and the brooklet flows
Around its feet with whispering.
     Leaf-tufted are the vines in Spring;
The goldfinch builds, the hare has her form;
And when the nightless days are warm,
When grass grows high and small flowers peep,
Far and wide the trailers sweep
Their pinky silver blossoms, which
Are braided with a delicate stitch.
     The berries swell with Autumn's power;
Some are red and green and sour,
Some are black and juicy to bite,
Some have a maggot, some a blight.
Then frost-nipt leaves hang rusty and tatter'd,
With sleet and hail the bushes are batter'd,
A thorny brake on the barren hill,
Where the whistling blast blows chill.
But under the snow, amid the dark,
Sleeping waits the vernal spark.
    I had neither garden nor park.
On Bramble-Hill, by brake and stone,
Many a season I wandered lone,
With laughter, and pray'r, and singing, and moan;
In gray mist and in golden light,
Under the dawn and the starry night.
Not much to find, not much to see,
But the air was fresh, the path was free.

William Allingham
from Blackberries picked off many bushes, 1884

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

William Allingham biography

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Spring Morning / A.A. Milne

Spring Morning

Where am I going? I don't quite know.
Down to the stream where the king-cups grow 
Up on the hill where the pine-trees blow 
Anywhere, anywhere. I don't know.

Where am I going? The clouds sail by,
Little ones, baby ones, over the sky.
Where am I going? The shadows pass,
Little ones, baby ones, over the grass.

If you were a cloud, and sailed up there,
You'd sail on water as blue as air,
And you'd see me here in the fields and say:
"Doesn't the sky look green today?"

Where am I going? The high rooks call:
"It's awful fun to be born at all."
Where am I going? The ring-doves coo:
"We do have beautiful things to do."

If you were a bird, and lived on high,
You'd lean on the wind when the wind came by,
You'd say to the wind when it took you away:
"That's where I wanted to go today!"

Where am I going? I don't quite know.
What does it matter where people go?
Down to the wood where the blue-bells grow 
Anywhere, anywhere. I don't know.

A.A. Milne
from When We Were Very Young, 1924

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Penny's Top 20 - May 2013

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

  1.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  2.  Penny (or Penny's Hat), George Dance
  3.  The Cherry Tree, A.E. Housman
  4.  Men Made Out of Words, Wallace Stevens
  5.  Romance Novel / Roman, Arthur Rimbaud
Autumn, T.E. Hulme
  7.  Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens

The Blue Heron, Theodore Goodridge Roberts
  9.  To Blossoms, Robert Herrick

10.  When the Ash-Tree Buds and the Maples, Duncan Campbell Scott

 May Evening in Central Park, Amy Lowell
12.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens 
13.  Wind and Silver, Amy Lowell
14.  In May, F. Sackett

15.  Mother, Lola Ridge
16.  Barbara Allen's Cruelty

17.  May Wind, Sara Teasdale

18.  May, John Clare

19.  How true love is likened to summer, Thomas Malory

20.  The Dying Philosopher to His Fiddler, John Drinkwater

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Penny's Top 100 of 2011

The 100 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during 2011:

  1. Penny (or Penny's Hat), George J. Dance
  2. Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  3. Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Wallace Stevens
  4. Lorelei's Song / Das Loreleylied, Heinrich Heine
  5. Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy

  6. Ganesha Girl on Rankin, Will Dockery
  7. Mars & Avril, George J. Dance
  8. Romance Novel / Roman, Arthur Rimbaud
  9. Lucky Penny, George J. Dance
10. The Man with the Blue Guitar, Wallace Stevens

11. Daily News, George J. Dance
12. Red Lipped Stranger, Will Dockery
13. Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens
14. Songs, Demonspawn
15. Winter Love, George J. Dance

16. Chun Wang / Spring Scene, Tu Fu
17. A Sonnet of the Moon, Charles Best
18. Landscape in 2 Colours / Paysage en 2 couleurs, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
19. Autumn Music, George J. Dance
20. Men Made Out of Words, Wallace Stevens

21. Vowels / Voyelles, Arthur Rimbaud
22. Angel's Song, Hieronymous707
23. Portrait, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
24. November, F.W. Harvey
25. September Night, George J. Dance

26. Velvet Shoes, Elinor Wylie
27. Bird Cage / Cage d'oiseau, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
28. The Playing / Le jeu, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
29. Sonnet. The Token, John Donne
30. A Villlanelle is Difficult to Write, Hieronymous707

31. A Light exists in Spring, Emily Dickinson
32. Accompaniment / Accompagnement, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
33. In the Bleak Mid-winter, Christina Rossetti
34. Petit the Poet, Edgar Lee Masters
35. A Scroll, George J. Dance

36. Improvisations on the Flute, Marjorie Pickthall
37. Chaos in Motion and Not in Motion, Wallace Stevens
38. March, George J. Dance
39. The Huron Carol, trans. J. Edgar Middleton
40. Elixir (Dance Mix), Crystal Matteau & George J. Dance

41. For the Fallen, Laurence Binyon
42. Impression: Le Reveillon, Oscar Wilde
43. Mannequin in a Mirror, Matt E. and George J. Dance
44. Not Ideas About the Thing but the Thing Itself, Wallace Stevens
45. August Night, Sara Teasdale

46. The New England Boy's Song About Thanksgiving Day, Lydia Maria Child
47. Wheat Field Concerts, James D. Senetto
48. Icicle Drops, Arthur Lockhart
49. The Children, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
50. June, George J. Dance

51. Song (Man's a poor deluded bubble),  Robert Dodsley
52. Winter Uplands, Archibald Lampman
53. Once, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
54. how far away it was, ray heinrich
55. The Sky is low, Emily Dickinson

56. On the Grasshopper and Cricket, John Keats
57. Wind and Silver, Amy Lowell
58. Stonewalled Meteor, Rusty Taylor
59. Heat in the City, Archibald Lampman
60. The Bridge at Flatline, Adam Lynn

61. Winter Nightfall, Robert Bridges
62. Stony Lake, Katherine Hale
63. Departure, Edna St. Vincent Millay
64. Orbits, Adam Lynn
65. Minor Apocalypse, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau

66. There is a Garden in Her Face, Thomas Campion
67. She Walks in Beauty, Lord Byron
68. The Starlit Night, Gerard Manley Hopkins
69. Oxford Cheese Ode, James McIntyre
70. When You Are Old, W.B. Yeats

71. To My Mother, Thomas Moore
72. Solitude Surrounded, AE Reiff
73. When Yon Full Moon, W.H. Davies
74. Among the Rocks, Robert Browning
75. The Blue Heron, Theodore Goodridge Roberts

76. The Modern Politician, Archibald Lampman
77. The Old Year, John Clare
78. The March of the Dead, Robert W. Service
79. The Garden, Sara Teasdale
80. Christmas Sonnet, E.A. Woodward

81. Winter Field, A.E. Coppard
82. The Dove of New Snow, Vachel Lindsay
83. I Am Not Yours, Sara Teasdale
84. Remembering Ishtar (1929), Ivan McNeil
85. Let No Charitable Hope, Elinor Wylie

86. Christmas Carol, Sara Teasdale
87. A Fading of the Sun, Wallace Stevens
88. The stars are glittering in the frosty sky, Charles Heavysege
89. A Madrigal, Jane Elizabeth MacDonald
90. To Daffodils, Robert Herrick

91. Snow on the East Wind, Edward Plunkett
92. Beautiful Old Age, D.H. Lawrence
93. How He Died, Ernest Howard Crosby
94. A January Morning, Archibald Lampman
95. The Dark Hills, Edward Arlington Robinson

96. The Great Matter, Obsidian Eagle
97. The Skaters, John Gould Fletcher
98. Penny's OS, George Dance
99. Moonlight and Common Day, Louise Morey Bowen
100. A Moth Danced, James D. Senetto