Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year / Richard Le Gallienne

New Year

With vain regret we watch the year
Departing. Eighty-nine is here,
     And poor old Eighty-eight has ended —
     And have our ways and morals mended
A whit these twelve months gone, my dear?

No great improvement will appear
In either yours or mine, I fear;
     The past had best go unattended
                    With vain regret.

Of dark surmises keeping clear,
Let's wisely take without a tear
     The bitter with the sweetness blended;
     We'll hope by Fate to be befriended,
Nor sigh, when Ninety shall be near
                    With vain regret.

Richard Le Gallienne (1866-1947)
from Twilight and Candle-Shades, 1888

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

Richard Le Gallienne biography

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Peace on Earth / Edwin Arlington Robinson

Peace on Earth

He took a frayed hat from his head,
And “Peace on Earth” was what he said.
“A morsel out of what you’re worth,
And there we have it: Peace on Earth.
Not much, although a little more
Than what there was on earth before.
I’m as you see, I’m Ichabod,—
But never mind the ways I’ve trod;
I’m sober now, so help me God.”

I could not pass the fellow by.
“Do you believe in God?” said I;
“And is there to be Peace on Earth?”

“Tonight we celebrate the birth,”
He said, “of One who died for men;
The Son of God, we say. What then?
Your God, or mine? I’d make you laugh
Were I to tell you even half
That I have learned of mine today
Where yours would hardly seem to stay.
Could He but follow in and out
Some anthropoids I know about,
The god to whom you may have prayed
Might see a world He never made.”

“Your words are flowing full,” said I;
“But yet they give me no reply;
Your fountain might as well be dry.”

“A wiser One than you, my friend,
Would wait and hear me to the end;
And for his eyes a light would shine
Through this unpleasant shell of mine
That in your fancy makes of me
A Christmas curiosity.
All right, I might be worse than that;
And you might now be lying flat;
I might have done it from behind,
And taken what there was to find.
Don’t worry, for I’m not that kind.
‘Do I believe in God?’ Is that
The price tonight of a new hat?
Has he commanded that his name
Be written everywhere the same?
Have all who live in every place
Identified his hidden face?
Who knows but he may like as well
My story as one you may tell?
And if he show me there be Peace
On Earth, as there be fields and trees
Outside a jail-yard, am I wrong
If now I sing him a new song?
Your world is in yourself, my friend,
For your endurance to the end;
And all the Peace there is on Earth
Is faith in what your world is worth,
And saying, without any lies,
Your world could not be otherwise.”

“One might say that and then be shot,”
I told him; and he said: “Why not?”
I ceased, and gave him rather more
Than he was counting of my store.
“And since I have it, thanks to you,
Don’t ask me what I mean to do,”
Said he. “Believe that even I
Would rather tell the truth than lie —
On Christmas Eve. No matter why.”

His unshaved, educated face,
His inextinguishable grace.
And his hard smile, are with me still,
Deplore the vision as I will;
For whatsoever he be at,
So droll a derelict as that  
Should have at least another hat.

Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)
from The Three Taverns: A book of poems, 1920

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

Edwin Arlington Robinson biography

Monday, December 29, 2014

Winter Night / Robert Hillyer

Winter Night

The snow lies crisp beneath the stars.
On roofs and on the ground,
Late footsteps crunch along the paths,
There is no other sound.

So cold it is the very trees
Snap in the rigid frost,
A dreadful night to think on them, —
The homeless and the lost.

The dead sleep sheltered in the tomb;
The rich drink in the hall;
The Virgin and the Holy Child
Crouch shivering in a stall.

Robert Hillyer (1895-1961)
from Sonnets, and other lyrics, 1917

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

Robert Hillyer biography

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mary Tired / Marjorie Pickthall

Mary Tired

Through the starred Judean night
She went, in travail of the Light.
With the earliest hush she saw
God beside her in the straw.

One poor taper glimmered clear,
Drowsing Joseph nodded near.
All the glooms were rosed with wings.
She that knew the Spirit’s kiss
Wearied of the bright abyss.
She was tired of heavenly things.
There between the day and night
These she counted for delight:

Baby kids that butted hard
In the shadowy stable yard;
Silken doves that dipped and preened
Where the crumbling well-curb greened;
Sparrows in the vine, and small
Sapphired flies upon the wall,
So lovely they seemed musical.

In the roof a swift had built.
All the new-born airs were spilt
Out of cups the morning made
Of a glory and a shade.
These her solemn eyelids felt
While unseen the seraphs knelt.
Then a young mouse, sleek and bold,
Rustling in the winnowed gold,
To her shadow crept, and curled
Near the Ransom of the World.

Marjorie Pickthall (1883-1922)
from The Woodcarver's Wife, and later poems, 1922

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

Marjorie Pickthall biography

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Weeping Babe / Katharine Tynan

The Weeping Babe

She kneels by the cradle
     Where Jesus doth lie;
Singing, Lullaby, my Baby!
     But why dost Thou cry?

The babes of the village
     Smile sweetly in sleep;
And lullaby, my Baby,
     That ever dost weep!

I've wrapped Thee in linen,
     The gift of the Kings;
And wool, soft and fleecy,
     The kind Shepherd brings.

There's a dove on the trellis,
     And wings in the door,
And the gold shoes of angels
     Are bright on our floor.

Then lullaby, my Baby!
     I've fed thee with milk,
And wrapped thee in kisses
     As soft as the silk.

And here are red roses,
     And grapes from the vine,
And a lamb trotting softly,
     Thy playfellow fine.

Now smile, little Jesus,
     Whom naught can defile;
All gifts will I give Thee
     An thou wilt but smile.

But it's lullaby, my Baby!
     And mournful am I,
Thou cherished little Jesus,
     That still Thou wilt cry.

Katharine Tynan (1861-1931)
from Poems, 1901

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

Katharine Tynan biography

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Carol / May Probyn

Christmas Carol

Lacking samite and sable,
    Lacking silver and gold,
The Prince Jesus in the poor stable
    Slept, and was three hours old.

As doves by the fair water,    
    Mary, not touch’d of sin,
Sat by Him,— the King’s daughter,
    All glorious within.

A lily without one stain, a
    Star where no spot hath room.  
Ave, gratia plena —
    Virgo Virginum!

Clad not in pearl-sewn vesture,
    Clad not in cramoisie,
She hath hush’d, she hath cradled to rest, her      
   God the first time on her knee.

Where is one to adore Him?
    The ox hath dumbly confess’d,
With the ass, meek kneeling before Him,
   "Et homo factus est."    

Not throned on ivory or cedar,
    Not crown’d with a Queen’s crown,
At her breast it is Mary shall feed her
    Maker, from Heaven come down.

The trees in Paradise blossom      
    Sudden, and its bells chime —
She giveth Him, held to her bosom,
    Her immaculate milk the first time.

The night with wings of angels
    Was alight, and its snow-pack’d ways      
Sweet made (say the Evangels)
    With the noise of their virelays.

Quem vidistis, pastores?
    Why go ye feet unshod?
Wot ye within yon door is      
    Mary, the Mother of God?

No smoke of spice is ascending
    There — no roses are piled —
But, choicer than all balms blending
    There Mary hath kiss’d her child.    

"Dilectus meus mihi
    Et ego Illi" — cold
Small cheek against her cheek, He
    Sleepeth, three hours old.

May Probyn (1856-1909)
from Pansies: A book of poems, 1895

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

May Probyn biography

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christ's Nativity / Henry Vaughan

Christ's Nativity


Awake, glad heart! get up, and sing!
It is the birth-day of thy King.
         Awake! awake!
         The Sun doth shake
Light from his locks, and, all the way
Breathing perfumes, doth spice the day.

Awake, awake! hark how th’ wood rings;
Winds whisper, and the busy springs
         A concert make;
         Awake! awake!
Man is their high-priest, and should rise
To offer up the sacrifice.

I would I were some bird, or star,
Flutt’ring in woods, or lifted far
         Above this inn
         And road of sin!
Then either star or bird should be
Shining or singing still to thee.

I would I had in my best part
Fit rooms for thee! or that my heart
         Were so clean as
         Thy manger was!
But I am all filth, and obscene;
Yet, if thou wilt, thou canst make clean.

Sweet Jesu! will then; let no more
This leper haunt and soil thy door!
         Cure him, ease him,
         O release him!
And let once more, by mystic birth,
The Lord of life be born in earth.


How kind is Heav'n to man! If here
         One sinner doth amend.
Straight there is joy, and ev'ry sphere
         In music doth contend.
And shall we then no voices lift?
         Are mercy and salvation
Not worth our thanks? Is life a gift
         Of no more acceptation?
Shall He that did come down from thence,
         And here for us was slain,
Shall he be now cast off? no sense
         Of all his woes remain ?
Can neither love nor suff 'rings bind?
         Are we all stone and earth?
Neither his bloudy passions mind,
         Nor one day blesse his birth?
Alas, my God! thy birth now here
         Must not be numbered in the year.

Henry Vaughan (1622-1695)
from Silex Scintillans; or, Sacred poems, 1854

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Bells / Edward Robeson Taylor

Christmas Bells

Ring out, O heartsome Christmas Bells,
     Ring clear, and deep, and long,
Till every noblest feeling swells
     To crush the mean and wrong;
Till love, with her angelic train,
     Encamps within the soul,
And bids her most melodious strain
     Throughout its chambers roll;
          Till raging ires'
          Pernicious fires
In all the lands die down and cease,
While reigns supreme the King of Peace.
     Ring out, ye Christmas Bells!

Ring out, O sacred Christmas Bells,
     Ring far, and loud, and long,
Till once again within us swells
     That old, earth given song,
First heard beneath the wondrous ray
      Which led the Magians where
An infant all divinely lay,
     And breathed immortal air;
          Till we shall heed
          His simple creed,
And learn, as on we stumbling go,
To love is better than to know.
     Ring out, ye Christmas Bells!

Ring out, O memoried Christmas Bells,
     Ring sweet, and low, and long,
Till every bosom gently swells
     With thoughts, in grieving throng,
Of brightsome eyes that fondly shone
     On ours this hallowed day,
Of lips that spake with tenderest tone,
     Now passed from earth away;
          But while we hear
          The bells ring clear,
Those eyes again with fondness shine,
Those lips bespeak a joy divine.
     Ring out, ye Christmas Bells!

Edward Robeson Taylor (1838-1923)
from Into the Light, and other verse, 1906

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

Edward Robeson Taylor biography

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas / G.A. Studdert Kennedy


     Come sail with me,
     O'er the golden sea,
To the land where the rainbow ends.
     Where the rainbow ends,
     And the great earth bends,
To the weight of the starry sky.
     Where tempests die
     With a last fierce cry,
And never a wind is wild
     There's a Mother mild,
     With a little child
Like a star set on her knee.
     Then bow you down,
     Give Him the crown,
'Tis the Lord of the world you see.

G.A. Studdert Kennedy ("Woodbine Willy") (1883-1929)
from Rough Rhymes of a Padre, 1918

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

G.A. Studdert Kennedy biography

Monday, December 22, 2014

O Happy Christmas Days of Old /
Arthur Wentworth Eaton

O Happy Christmas Days of Old

O happy Christmas days of old,
     When chimes rang out across the snow
That lay its crust on wood and wold,
     On hills above, on fields below.

O happy Christmas days of old,
     When carols clear by children sung
Awoke the starlit evening cold
     And through the silent hamlet rung.

O happy Christmas days of old,
     When holly from the rafters fell,
And bells in moss-grown towers tolled
     The midnight hymn men loved so well.

O happy Christmas days of old,
     When every castle far and near
Its stern portcullis upward rolled
     And welcomed all who came with cheer.

O happy Christmas days of old,
     When poorest beggars ate their fill,
When for the time the meek grew bold,
     And everywhere was right good will.

O happy Christmas days of old.
     When yule logs burned and flames leaped high,
And round the hearth good people told
     Tales of the Christ's nativity.

O happy, happy night of old.
     When, ere the world's first Christmas morn,
Kings of the East brought gifts of gold
     To lay before the newly-born.

O happy Christmas days of old,
     O night that gladdened all below,
Let your sweet spirit us enfold
     Till perfect Christmas joys we know!

Arthur Wentworth Eaton (1849-1937)
from Poems 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 21, 2014

Twelfth Night, or King and Queen / Robert Herrick

Twelfth Night, or King and Queen

     Now, now the mirth comes
     With the cake full of plums,
Where Bean's the king of the sport here;
     Beside, we must know
     The Pea also
Must revel, as Queen in the court here.

     Begin then to choose,
     (This night, as ye use)
Who shall for the present delight here;
     Be a King by the lot,
     And who shall not
Be Twelve-day Queen for the night here.

     Which known, let us make
     Joy-sops with the cake;
And let not a man then be seen here,
     Who unurg'd will not drink
     To the base from the brink
A health to the King and the Queen here.

     Next crown the bowl full
     With gentle lamb's-wool;
Add sugar, nutmeg, and ginger,
     With store of ale, too;
     And this ye must do
To make the wassail a swinger.

     Give then to the King
     And Queen wassailing:
And though with ale ye be wet here,
     Yet part ye from hence,
     As free from offence
As when ye innocent met here.

Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
from Herrick's Hesperides & Noble Numbers, 1906

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Robert Herrick biography

Saturday, December 20, 2014

December / Dollie Radford


No gardener need go far to find
     The Christmas rose,
The fairest of the flowers that mark
     The sweet Year’s close:
Nor be in quest of places where
     The hollies grow,
Nor seek for sacred trees that hold
     The mistletoe.
All kindly tended gardens love
     December days,
And spread their latest riches out
     In winter’s praise.
But every gardener’s work this month
     Must surely be
To choose a very beautiful
     Big Christmas tree,
And see it through the open door
     In triumph ride,
To reign a glorious reign within
     At Christmas‐tide.

Dollie Radford (1858-1920)
from The Young Gardeners' Kalendar, 1904

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

Dollie Radford biography

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Farmer's Bride / Charlotte Mew

The Farmer's Bride

     Three Summers since I chose a maid,
     Too young maybe — but more’s to do
     At harvest-time than bide and woo.
            When us was wed she turned afraid
     Of love and me and all things human;
     Like the shut of a winter’s day
     Her smile went out, and ’twasn’t a woman —
            More like a little frightened fay.
                    One night, in the Fall, she runned away.

     “Out ’mong the sheep, her be,” they said,
     ’Should properly have been abed;
     But sure enough she wasn’t there
     Lying awake with her wide brown stare.
So over seven-acre field and up-along across the down
     We chased her, flying like a hare
     Before our lanterns. To Church-Town
            All in a shiver and a scare
     We caught her, fetched her home at last
            And turned the key upon her, fast.

     She does the work about the house
     As well as most, but like a mouse:
            Happy enough to chat and play
            With birds and rabbits and such as they,
            So long as men-folk keep away.
     “Not near, not near!” her eyes beseech
     When one of us comes within reach.
            The women say that beasts in stall
            Look round like children at her call.
            I’ve hardly heard her speak at all.

     Shy as a leveret, swift as he,
     Straight and slight as a young larch tree,
     Sweet as the first wild violets, she,
     To her wild self. But what to me?

     The short days shorten and the oaks are brown,
            The blue smoke rises to the low grey sky,
     One leaf in the still air falls slowly down,
            A magpie’s spotted feathers lie
     On the black earth spread white with rime,
     The berries redden up to Christmas-time.
            What’s Christmas-time without there be
            Some other in the house than we!

            She sleeps up in the attic there
            Alone, poor maid. ’Tis but a stair
     Betwixt us. Oh! my God! the down,
     The soft young down of her, the brown,
The brown of her — her eyes, her hair, her hair!

Charlotte Mew (1869-1928)
from The Farmer's Bride, 1921

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

Charlotte Mew biography

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Cold Heaven / W.B. Yeats

The Cold Heaven

Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting Heaven
That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,
And thereupon imagination and heart were driven
So wild that every casual thought of that and this
Vanished, and left but memories, that should be out of season
With the hot blood of youth, of love crossed long ago;
And I took all the blame out of all sense and reason,
Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro,
Riddled with light. Ah! when the ghost begins to quicken,
Confusion of the death-bed over, is it sent
Out naked on the roads, as the books say, and stricken
By the injustice of the skies for punishment?

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
from Responsibilities, and other poems, 1916

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

W.B. Yeats biography

Sunday, December 7, 2014

How like a winter hath my absence been /
William Shakespeare


How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December's bareness everywhere!
And yet this time remov'd was summer's time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burthen of the prime,
Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me
But hope of orphans and unfather'd fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And thou away, the very birds are mute;
     Or if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer
     That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
from Shakespeare's Sonnets (London: John Lane, 1899)

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

William Shakespeare biography
Shakespeare's Sonnets
Analysis of Sonnet 97

Saturday, December 6, 2014

When May paints azure all above / Gertrude Hall

VI. When May paints azure all above 

When May paints azure all above,
And emerald all underfoot,
And charms to flower the withered root,
And warms to passion the staid dove,
Sing, bard! of hope, of joy, of love!

But when December saddens o'er
The land whence birds and leaves are gone,
When black nights come, and grey days dawn,
Sing, bard! sing louder than before,
Of joy, hope, love! louder and more!

Gertrude Hall (1863-1961)
from The Age of Fairygold, 1899

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

Gertrude Hall biography

Friday, December 5, 2014

Penny's Top 20 / November 2014

Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in November 2014:

  1.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
  2.  The Pity of the Leaves, Edwin Arlington Robinson
  3.  The Ancient Game, Alfred Gordon
  4.  After Loos, Patrick MacGill
  5.  Ghosts of Uncertainties, R.S. Mallari
  6.  To the Autumnal Moon, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  7.  November Night, Arthur Davison Fricke

  8.  War, John Le Gay Brereton

  9.  Gethsemane, Rudyard Kipling

10.  Penny (or Penny's Hat), George J. Dance 

11.  Arlington, Skipwith Cannell
12.  George Edmund's Song, Charles Dickens

13.  The Bobolinks, Christopher Pearse Cranch
14.  A Rhyme about an Electrical Advertising Sign, Vachel Lindsay
15.  What Can We Do?, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau

16.  In October, Archibald Lampman
17.  November, Elizabeth Stoddard

18.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
Portrait of Autumn, Thomas Chatterton
20. The Blue Heron, Theodore Goodridge Roberts

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November / Elizabeth Stoddard


Much have I spoken of the faded leaf;
Long have I listened to the wailing wind,
And watched it ploughing through the heavy clouds,
For autumn charms my melancholy mind.

When autumn comes, the poets sing a dirge:
The year must perish; all the flowers are dead;
The sheaves are gathered; and the mottled quail
Runs in the stubble, but the lark has fled!

Still, autumn ushers in the Christmas cheer,
The holly-berries and the ivy-tree:
They weave a chaplet for the Old Year's bier
These waiting mourners do not sing for me!

I find sweet peace in depths of autumn woods.
Where grow the ragged ferns and roughened moss;
The naked, silent trees have taught me this,—
The loss of beauty is not always loss!

Elizabeth Stoddard (1823-1902)
from Poems, 1895

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Elizabeth Stoddard biography

Saturday, November 29, 2014

George Edmund's Song / Charles Dickens

George Edmund's Song

Autumn leaves, autumn leaves, lie strewn around me here;
Autumn leaves, autumn leaves, how sad, how cold, how drear!
     How like the hopes of childhood’s day,
          Thick clust’ring on the bough!
     How like those hopes in their decay—
          How faded are they now!
Autumn leaves, autumn leaves, lie strewn around me here;
Autumn leaves, autumn leaves, how sad, how cold, how drear!

Wither’d leaves, wither’d leaves, that fly before the gale:
Withered leaves, withered leaves, ye tell a mournful tale,
     Of love once true, and friends once kind,
          And happy moments fled:
     Dispersed by every breath of wind,
          Forgotten, changed, or dead!
Autumn leaves, autumn leaves, lie strewn around me here!
Autumn leaves, autumn leaves, how sad, how cold, how drear!

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
from The Poems and Verses of Charles Dickens, 1903

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Pity of the Leaves / Edwin Arlington Robinson

The Pity of the Leaves

Vengeful across the cold November moors,
Loud with ancestral shame there came the bleak,
Sad wind that shrieked, and answered with a shriek,
Reverberant through lonely corridors.
The old man heard it; and he heard, perforce,  
Words out of lips that were no more to speak —
Words of the past that shook the old man’s cheek
Like dead, remembered footsteps on old floors.
And then there were the leaves that plagued him so!
The brown, thin leaves that on the stones outside
Skipped with a freezing whisper. Now and then
They stopped, and stayed there — just to let him know
How dead they were; but if the old man cried,
They fluttered off like withered souls of men.

Edward Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)
from The Children of the Night, 1897

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

Edwin Arlington Robinson biography

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ghosts of Uncertainties / R.S. Mallari

Ghosts of Uncertainties

there are shadows over me
and creeping through my brain
why won’t they let me be?

had enough of these entities
I run, I hide, still they remain
there are shadows over me

prisoner of uncertainty
they've locked me in chains
why won’t they let me be?

dragged by unseen enemies
tied to a runaway train
there are shadows over me

illusions, perhaps they may be
I have fought, always in vain
why won’t they let me be?

free me from this misery
somebody, take away the pain
there are shadows over me
why won’t they let me be?

R.S. Mallari
from Poems about Life

[All rights reserved - used with permission]

R.S. Mallari biography

Sunday, November 16, 2014

War / John Le Gay Brereton



The beast exultant spreads the nostril wide,
     Snuffing a sickly hate-enkindling scent;
     Proud of his rage, on sudden carnage bent,
He leaps, and flings the helpless guard aside.
Again, again the hills are gapped and dyed,
     Again the hearts of waiting women spent.
     Is there no cooler pathway to content?
Can we not heal the insanity of pride?

Silence the crackle and thunder of battling guns,
     And drive your men to strategy of peace;
          Crush ere its birth the hell-begotten crime;
Still there’s a war that no true warrior shuns,
     That knows no mercy, looks for no surcease,
          But ghastlier battles, victories more sublime.


Envy has slid in silence to its hole,
     And Peace is basking where the workers meet,
     And fire has purged the fever of the street
Where raucous tradesmen grinned and gave and stole.
Yet louder now the tides of battle roll,
     With cheer or sob of charge or stern retreat,
     And sullen thud and rumble of cannon beat
About the heights and passes of the soul.

Not only that amid the hush we hear
     The sounds that once were blurred by market cries,
          Or classes wrangling in affairs of state:
But forces now set free from sordid fear
     No longer work as Mammon’s murdering spies,
          But storm the very citadels of hate.

John Le Gay Brereton (1871-1933)
from The Burning Marl, 1919

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

John Le Gay Brereton biography

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Gethsemane / Rudyard Kipling


The Garden called Gethsemane
   In Picardy it was,
And there the people came to see
   The English soldiers pass.
We used to pass — we used to pass
   Or halt, as it might be,
And ship our masks in case of gas
   Beyond Gethsemane.

The Garden called Gethsemane,
   It held a pretty lass,
But all the time she talked to me
   I prayed my cup might pass.
The officer sat on the chair,
   The men lay on the grass,
And all the time we halted there
   I prayed my cup might pass.

It didn’t pass — it didn’t pass —
   It didn’t pass from me.
I drank it when we met the gas
   Beyond Gethsemane.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
from The Years Between, 1919

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

Rudaryd Kipling biography

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Ancient Game / Alfred Gordon

The Ancient Game

The chess-board of the world is set for war:
The kings, that take, but may not taken be;
The queens, unprized in this hostility;
The fortress-castles in the corners four;
The cringing bishops, state-bound to the core;
The inglorious knights of trade and usury –
But at the front of this great panoply
The pawns are ranged to pay the sordid score.

By tortuous juggling, in the name of right,
The marshalled forces to the field are led;
But as they grapple in the sanguine fight,
The arch-intriguers' blood is never shed,
The pieces on the board stand, black and white –
The pawns lie scattered, black and white both red.

Alfred Gordon (1888-1959)
from In Prophecy, and Sonnets of the European war, 1914

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

Alfred Gordon biography

Sunday, November 9, 2014

After Loos / Patrick MacGill

After Loos

(Cafe Pierre le Blanc, Nouex les Mines, Michaelmas Eve, 1915.)

Was it only yesterday
Lusty comrades marched away?
Now they're covered up with clay.

Seven glasses used to be
Called for six good mates and me —
Now we only call for three.

Little crosses neat and white,
Looking lonely every night,
Tell of comrades killed in fight.

Hearty fellows they have been,
And no more will they be seen
Drinking wine in Nouex les Mines.

Lithe and supple lads were they,
Marching merrily away —
Was it only yesterday?

Patrick MacGill (1889-1963)
from Soldier Songs, 1917

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

Patrick MacGill biography

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Arlington / Skipwith Cannell


Build a tomb for the soldier,
Crown the hill
With marble tribute to the will
To die and not the skill
To live in peace.
Descend the hill and cease
To fill the eye with marble –
Row on row the still
Grey slabs of granite stubble
Spur the wood where nameless
Hundreds sleep beneath the oak.
O living branches, forked with songs,
Scattering leaves along the brook,
Whose testimony still belongs
To grasses and the shadowed nook
Where silver fish make use of hours,
Bear witness to these fallen ranks
As well: recall their April powers
And seasons that lie squandered here.
Bear witness, break the evil spell,
Lift but one head above the sod!
However he sleeps, he sleeps not well
Who might like morning once have trod
These hills and cupped warm hands
To drink the brook; or shape a breast
Beneath his touch. O hands gone chill
Around a musket barrel, hands that pressed
The living flesh of common days,
Rot here within this living wood;
But let these trees bear witness how
Your manhood might have stood,
Tall, strong and green, the years endowed
With more than marble monuments.

Skipwith Cannell (1887-1957)

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Skipwith Cannell biography

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November Night / Arthur Davison Ficke

November Night

A crystal night!— with moon and the clear wind
Through tree-tops! On the lately-frozen earth
Silence has come, and end of the loud flaunt
Of Summer. Now the crueler powers possess
The fields and hills; now the corporeal bloom
Yields to mere beauty, and the golden grass,
The scarlet leaves, take empire.

                                                                    What a throne,—
This season of waste fruitage! Through this night,
Empty except for the high sailing moon
And the fierce winds that in long reckless sweep
Tear at men's doors,— through this clear shaken night
A ghost might walk as on the battlements
Of Elsinore, and a new Hamlet speak
With no surprise to him. The trembling branches,—
Bare, desolate, impossible as home
Of nesting birds,— like a Cimmerian lace
Sway in the winds. . . . Did not a poet sing
"O Moon of my Delight!"— how long ago
He sang that! But this keen tempestuous hour
A different moon lives.

                                                 Oh white night! with moon
And clear wind through the tree-tops! Icy night,
That had no fellow till I came to you!

Arthur Davison Ficke (1883-1945)
from An April Elegy, 1917

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

Arthur Davison Ficke biography

Saturday, November 1, 2014

To the Autumnal Moon / Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Effusion XVIII.
To the Autumnal moon

Mild Splendour of the various-vested Night!
Mother of wildly-working visions! hail!
I watch thy gliding, while with watery light
Thy weak eye glimmers thro' a fleecy veil;
And when thou lovest thy pale orb to shroud
Behind the gather’d blackness lost on high;
And when thou dartest from the wind-rent cloud
Thy placid lightning o’er th' awaken’d sky.

Ah such is Hope! as changeful and as fair!
Now dimly peering on the wistful sight;
Now hid behind the dragon-wing’d Despair:
But soon emerging in her radiant might
She o’er the sorrow-clouded breast of Care
Sails, like a meteor kindling in its flight.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
from Poems on Various Subjects,  1796

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Samuel Taylor Coleridge biography

Penny's Top 20 / October 2014

Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in October 2014:

  1.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
  2.  Christmas Song, Bliss Carman
  3.  To Autumn, John Keats
  4.  Birds of Passage, Peter McArthur
  5.  Autumn, John Davidson
  6.  The Blue Heron, Theodore Goodridge Roberts
  7.  The birds that sing on autumn eves, Robert Bridges

  8.  In Autumn, Alice Meynell

Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
10.  The Thanksgivings, trans. Harriet Maxwell Converse

11.  Portrait of Autumn, Thomas Chatterton
12.  October, Hilaire Belloc

13.  In October, Archibald Lampman
14.  Free Fantasia on Japanese Themes, Amy Lowell
15.  Wheat Field Concerts, James D. Sennetto

16.  Penny (or Penny's Hat), George J. Dance
The Idlers, Pauline Johnson
18.  A City Sunset, T.E. Hulme
19.  Puella Parvula, Wallace Stevens

20. Poem in October, Dylan Thomas

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, October 26, 2014

In October / Archibald Lampman

In October

Along the waste, a great way off, the pines,
     Like tall slim priests of storm, stand up and bar
The low long strip of dolorous red that lines
     The under west, where wet winds moan afar.
The cornfields all are brown, and brown the meadows
     With the blown leaves' wind-heaped traceries,
And the brown thistle stems that cast no shadows,
     And bear no bloom for bees.

As slowly earthward leaf by red leaf slips,
     The sad leaves rustle in chill misery,
A soft strange inner sound of pain-crazed lips,
     That move and murmur incoherently;
As if all leaves, that yet have breath, were sighing,
     With pale hushed throats, for death is at the door,
So many low soft masses for the dying
     Sweet leaves that live no more.

Here I will sit upon this naked stone,
     Draw my coat closer with my numbed hands,
And hear the ferns sigh, and the wet woods moan,
     And send my heart out to the ashen lands;
And I will ask myself what golden madness,
     What balmed breaths of dreamland spicery,
What visions of soft laughter and light sadness
     Were sweet last month to me.

The dry dead leaves flit by with thin weird tunes,
     Like failing murmurs of some conquered creed,
Graven in mystic markings with strange runes,
     That none but stars and biting winds may read;
Here I will wait a little; I am weary,
     Not torn with pain of any lurid hue,
But only still and very gray and dreary,
     Sweet sombre lands, like you.

Archibald Lampman (1861-1899)
from Among the Millet, and other poems, 1888

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Archibald Lampman biography

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Portrait of Autumn / Thomas Chatterton

from Aella: A tragycal enterlude:

When Autumn bleak and sunburnt doth appear
With golden hand gilding the falling leaf,
Bringing up Winter to fulfill the year,
Bearing upon his back the ripened sheaf,
When all the hills with woolly seed are white,
When lightning-fires and gleams do meet from far the sight;

When the fair apple, red as evening sky,
Down bends the tree unto the fruitful ground,
When juicy pears, and berries of black dye,
Do dance in air and tempt the taste around;
Then be the evening foul or evening fair,
Methinks that my heart's joy is marred with with some dark care.

Modernized by Charles Edward Russell (1860-1941)
from Thomas Chatterton: The marvelous boy, 1908

Whanne Autumpne blake and sonne-brente doe appere,
With hys goulde honde guylteynge the falleynge lefe,
Bryngeynge oppe Wynterr to folfylle the yere,
Beerynge uponne hys backe the riped shefe;
Whan al the hyls wythe woddie sede ys whyte;
Whanne levynne-fyres and lemes do mete from far the syghte;

Whann the fayre apple, rudde as even skie,
Do bende the tree unto the fructyle grounde;
When joicie peres, and berries of blacke die,
Doe daunce yn ayre, and call the eyne arounde;
Thann, bee the even foule or even fayre,
Meethynckes mie hartys joie ys steynced wyth somme care.

Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770)
from The Rowley Poems of Thomas Chatterton, 1911

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Thomas Chatterton biography

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Birds of Passage / Peter McArthur

Birds of Passage

When the maples flame with crimson
     And the nights are still with frost,
Ere the summer's luring beauty
     Is in autumn glory lost,
Through the marshes and the forests
     An imperious summons flies,
And from all the dreaming north-land
     The wild birds flock and rise.

From streams no oar hath rippled
     And lakes that waft no sail,
From reaches vast and lonely
     That know no hunter's trail,
The clamor of their calling
     And the whistling of their flight
Fill all the day with marvel,
     And with mystery, the night.

As ebb along the ocean
     The great obedient tides,
So wave on wave they journey
     Where an ancient wisdom guides;
A-through the haze of autumn
     They vanish down the wind,
With the summer world before them
     And the crowding storms behind.

Peter McArthur (1866-1924)
from The Prodigal, and other poems, 1907

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

Peter McArthur biography

Saturday, October 18, 2014

In Autumn / Alice Meynell

In Autumn

The leaves are many under my feet,
 And drift one way.
Their scent of death is weary and sweet.
 A flight of them is in the grey
Where sky and forest meet.

The low winds moan for dead sweet years;
 The birds sing all for pain,
Of a common thing, to weary ears,–
 Only a summer's fate of rain,
And a woman's fate of tears.

I walk to love and life alone
 Over these mournful places,
Across the summer overthrown,
 The dead joys of these silent faces,
To claim my own.

I know his heart has beat to bright
 Sweet loves gone by.
I know the leaves that die to-night
 Once budded to the sky,
And I shall die to his delight.

O leaves, so quietly ending now,
 You have heard cuckoos sing.
And I will grow upon my bough
 If only for a Spring,
And fall when the rain is on my brow.

O tell me, tell me ere you die,
 Is it worth the pain?
You bloomed so fair, you waved so high;
 Now that the sad days wane,
Are you repenting where you lie?

I lie amongst you, and I kiss
 Your fragrance mouldering.
O dead delights, is it such bliss,
 That tuneful Spring?
Is love so sweet, that comes to this?

O dying blisses of the year,
 I hear the young lamb bleat,
The clamouring birds i' the copse I hear,
 I hear the waving wheat,
Together laid on a dead-leaf bier.

Kiss me again as I kiss you;
 Kiss me again;
For all your tuneful nights of dew,
 In this your time of rain,
For all your kisses when Spring was new.

You will not, broken hearts; let be.
 I pass across your death
To a golden summer you shall not see,
 And in your dying breath
There is no benison for me.

There is an Autumn yet to wane,
 There are leaves yet to fall,
Which when I kiss, may kiss again,
 And, pitied, pity me all for all,
And love me in mist and rain.

Alice Meynell (1847-1922)
from Preludes, 1875

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

Alice Meynell biography

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Thanksgivings / trans. Harriet Maxwell Converse

The Thanksgivings

We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here to praise Him.
We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered that these beings shall always be living to multiply the earth.
We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products to live on.
We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth and runs for our lands.
We thank Him for all the animals on the earth.
We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming from them for us all.
We thank Him for the branches of the trees that grow shadows for our shelter.
We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder and lightning that water the earth.
We thank Him for the light which we call our oldest brother, the sun that works for our good.
We thank Him for all the fruits that grow on the trees and vines.
We thank Him for his goodness in making the forests, and thank all its trees.
We thank Him for the darkness that gives us rest, and for the kind Being of the darkness that gives us light, the moon.
We thank Him for the bright spots in the skies that give us signs, the stars.
We give Him thanks for our supporters, who had charge of our harvests.
We give thanks that the voice of the Great Spirit can still be heard through the words of Ga-ne-o-di-o.
We thank the Great Spirit that we have the privilege of this pleasant occasion.
We give thanks for the persons who can sing the Great Spirit's music, and hope they will be privileged to continue in his faith.
We thank the Great Spirit for all the persons who perform the ceremonies on this occasion.

traditional Iroquois prayer
translated by Harriet Maxwell Converse (1836-1903)

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Harriet Maxwell Converse biography

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Autumn / John Davidson



All the waysides now are flowerless;
     Soon the swallows shall be gone,
And the Hamadryads bowerless,
     And the waving harvest done;
But about the river sources
     And the meres,
And the winding watercourses,
     Summer smiles through parting tears.

Wanderers weary, oh, come hither
     Where the green-leaved willows bend;
Where the grasses never wither,
     Or the purling noises end;
O'er the serried sedge, late blowing,
     Surge and float
Golden flags, their shadows showing
     Deep as in a castle-moat.

Like a ruby of the mosses
     Here the marish pimpernel,
Glowing crimson, still embosses
     Velvet verdure with its bell;
And the scallop-leaved and splendid
By the maiden breezes tended,
     Wears her flowers of golden brede.

Water-plantain, rosy vagrant,
     Flings his garland on the wave;
Mint in midstream rises fragrant,
     Dressed in green and lilac brave;
And that spies may never harass
     In their baths
The shining naiads, purple arras
     Of the loosestrife veils the paths.


Aftermaths of pleasant green
     Bind the earth in emerald bands;
Pouring golden in between,
     Tides of harvest flood the lands.
Showers of sunlight splash and dapple
     The orchard park;
And there the plum hangs and the apple,
     Like smouldering gems and lanterns dark.

Let no shallow jester croak!
     Fill the barn and brim the bowl!
Here is harvest, starving folk,
     Here, with bread for every soul!
Rouse yourselves with happy ditties,
     And hither roam,
Forsaking your enchanted cities
     To keep the merry harvest-home.

Surely now there needs no sigh!
     Bid the piper bring his pipe;
Sound aloud the harvest cry —
     Once again the earth is ripe!
Golden grain in sunlight sleeping,
     When winds are laid,
Can dream no dismal dream of weeping
     Where broken-hearted women fade.

More than would for all suffice
     From the earth's broad bosom pours;
Yet in cities wolfish eyes
     Haunt the windows and the doors.
Mighty One in Heaven who carvest
     The sparrows' meat,
Bid the hunger and the harvest
     Come together we entreat!

Aftermaths of pleasant green
     Bind the earth in emerald bands;
Pouring golden in between
     Tides of harvest flood the lands.
Let the wain roll home with laughter,
     The piper pipe,
And let the girls come dancing after,
     For once again the earth is ripe.

John Davidson (1857-1909)
from Ballads and Songs, 1898

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Davidson biography

Saturday, October 11, 2014

October / Hilaire Belloc


Look, how those steep woods on the mountain's face
Burn, burn against the sunset; now the cold
Invades our very noon: the year's grown old,
Mornings are dark, and evenings come apace.
The vines below have lost their purple grace,
And in Forreze the white wrack backward rolled,
Hangs to the hills tempestuous, fold on fold,
And moaning gusts make desolate all the place.

Mine host the month, at thy good hostelry,
Tired limbs I'll stretch and steaming beast I'll tether;
Pile on great logs with Gascon hand and free,
And pour the Gascon stuff that laughs at weather;
Swell your tough lungs, north wind, no whit care we,
Singing old songs and drinking wine together.

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)
from Sonnets and Verse, 1923

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Hilaire Belloc biography

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The birds that sing on autumn eves / Robert Bridges

from Shorter Poems, Book IV:


The birds that sing on autumn eves
Among the golden-tinted leaves,
Are but the few that true remain
Of budding May's rejoicing train.
Like autumn flowers that brave the frost,
And make their show when hope is lost,
These 'mong the fruits and mellow scent
Mourn not the high-sunned summer spent.
Their notes thro' all the jocund spring
Were mixed in merry musicking :
They sang for love the whole day long,
But now their love is all for song.
Now each hath perfected his lay
To praise the year that hastes away:
They sit on boughs apart, and vie
In single songs and rich reply:
And oft as in the copse I hear
These anthems of the dying year,
The passions, once her peace that stole,
With flattering love my heart console.

Robert Bridges (1844-1930)
from Shorter Poems, 1890

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

Robert Bridges biography

Saturday, October 4, 2014

To Autumn / John Keats

To Autumn


    Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
        Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
        With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
    To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
        And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
            To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
        And still more, later flowers for the bees,
        Until they think warm days will never cease,
            For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.


    Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
        Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
    Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
        Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
    Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
        Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
            Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
    And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
        Steady thy laden head across a brook;
        Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
            Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.


    Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
        Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
    While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
        And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
        Among the river sallows, borne aloft
            Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
        Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
        The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
           And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

John Keats (1795-1821)
from Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and other poems, 1820

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Keats biography

Friday, October 3, 2014

Penny's Top 20 / September 2014

Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in September 2014:

  1.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
  2.  The Harvest Moon, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  3.  Hurrahing in Harvest, Gerard Manley Hopkins
  4.  Summer's Farewell, Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  5.  September, Archibald Lampman
  6.  It's September, Edgar Guest
  7.  The Blue Heron, Theodore Goodridge Roberts

Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
Chaos in Motion and Not in Motion, Wallace Stevens
10.  Before Harvest, W.M. MacKeracher

11.  September Midnight, Sara Teasdale
Penny (or Penny's Hat), George J. Dance
13.  Harvest Dust, Winifred Welles
14.  Free Fantasia on Japanese Themes, Amy Lowell
15.  A City Sunset, T.E. Hulme

16.  The Idlers, Pauline Johnson
An August Wood Road, Charles G.D. Roberts
18.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
19.  Now Thrice Welcome Christmas, William Winstanley

Rejoice this Day, Govinda Krishna Chettur

Source: Blogger, "Stats"