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"