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"