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"