Thursday, December 31, 2015

After Christmas / Charles O'Donnell

After Christmas

Snowed over with the moonlight,
Or turning back the noon-light,
Down through the grooves of space
Earth swung its old, slow way.
But, thronging the rim of heaven,
Angels from morn till even,
Watched earth with reverent pace
Silent its orbit trace,
Cradle wherein God lay.

Charles O'Donnell (1884-1934)
from The Dead Musician, and other poems, 1916

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

Charles O'Donnell biography

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Christmas Symphony / Helen Hunt Jackson (I)

O Christmas stars! your pregnant silentness,
          Mute syllabled in rhythmic light,
          Leads on to-night,
And beckons, as three thousand years ago
It beckoning led. We, simple shepherds, know
          Little we can confess,
Beyond that we are poor, and creep
And wander with our sheep,
     Who love and follow us. We hear,
If we attend, a singing in the sky;
     But feel no fear.
Knowing that God is always nigh,
And none pass by,
Except His Sons, who cannot bring
Tidings of evil, since they sing.
Wise men with gifts are hurrying.
In haste to seek the meaning of the Star,
In search of worship which is new and far.
          We are but humble, so we keep
          On through the night, contented with our sheep,
And with the stars. Between us and the east,
     No wall, no tree, no cloud, lifts bar.
We know the sunrise. Not one least
          Of all its tokens can escape
     Our eyes that watch. But all days are
As nights, and nights as days.
In our still ways.
     We have no dread of any shape
          Which darkness can assume or fill;
     We are not weary; we can wait;
     God's hours are never late.
The wise men say they will return,
Revealing unto us the things they learn.
          Mayhap! Meantime the Star stands still;
And, having that, we have the Sign.
If we mistake, God is divine !

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) 
from Poems, 1886 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography
Read the complete poem here

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Christmas Symphony / Helen Hunt Jackson (II)


Oh, not alone because His name is Christ,
          Oh, not alone because Judea waits
     This man-child for her King, the Star stands still.
          Its glory reinstates,
     Beyond humiliation's utmost ill,
     On peerless throne, which she alone can fill,
Each earthly woman. Motherhood is priced
          Of God, at price no man may dare
     To lessen, or misunderstand.
          The motherhood which came
          To virgin sets in vestal flame,
     Fed by each new-born infant's hand,
          With Heaven's air,
     With Heaven's food,
The crown of purest purity revealed,
Virginity eternal signed and sealed
     Upon all motherhood !

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) 
from Poems, 1886 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography
Read the complete poem here

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Christmas Symphony / Helen Hunt Jackson (III)


Oh, not alone because His name is Christ,
          Oh, not alone because Judea waits
     This man-child for her King, the Star stands still.
          The Babe has mates.
   Childhood shall be forever on the earth;
And no man who has hurt or lightly priced
          So much as one sweet hair
               On one sweet infant's head,
     But shall be cursed! Henceforth all things fulfil
   Protection to each sacred birth.
          No spot shall dare
               Refuse a shelter. Beasts shall tread
     More lightly; and distress,
     And poverty, and loneliness.
Yea, and all darkness, shall devise
To shield each place wherein an infant lies.
     And wisdom shall come seeking it with gift,
And worship it with myrrh and frankincense;
     And kings shall tremble if it lift
          Its hand against a throne.
          But mighty in its own
Great feebleness, and safe in God's defence.
     No harm can touch it, and no death can kill,
     Without its Father's will!

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) 
from Poems, 1886 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography
Read the complete poem here

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Christmas Symphony / Helen Hunt Jackson (IV)


Oh, not alone because His name is Christ,
          Oh, not alone because Judea waits
     This man-child for her King, the Star stands still.
     The universe must utter, and fulfil
          The mighty voice which states,
     The mighty destiny which holds,
          Its key-note and its ultimate design.
     Waste places and the deserts must perceive
That they are priced,
          No less than gardens in the Heart Divine.
Sorrow her sorrowing must leave,
     And learn one sign
          With joy. And Loss and Gain
          Must be no more.
     And all things which have gone before,
          And all things which remain,
          And all of Life, and all of Death be slain
          In mighty birth, whose name
     Is called Redemption! Praise!
          Praise to God! The same
     To-day and yesterday, and in all days
          Forever! Praise!

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) 
from Poems, 1886 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography
Read the complete poem here

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Christmas Symphony / Helen Hunt Jackson (V)


Oh, Christmas stars! Your pregnant silentness,
          Mute syllabled in rhythmic light,
          Fills all the night.
     No doubt, on all your golden shores,
          Full music rings
          Of Happiness
          As sweet as ours.
Midway in that great tideless stream which pours,
     And builds its shining road through trackless space,
From you to us, and us to you, must be
     Some mystic place,
Where all our voices meet, and melt
Into this solemn silence which is felt,
          And sense of sound mysterious brings
Where sound is not. This is God's secret. He
     Sits centred in his myriads of skies,
     Where seas of sound and seas of silence rise,
And break together in one note and key,
     Divinely limitless in harmony!

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) 
from Poems, 1886 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography
Read the complete poem here

Friday, December 25, 2015

Psalm 98 (Joy to the World) - Isaac Watts

Psalm 98

C.M. First Part. Sunday.
Praise for the Gospel.

To our almighty Maker God,
     New honours be addrest;
His great salvation shines abroad,
     And makes the nations blest.

He spake the Word to Abraham first
     His truth fulfils his grace:
The Gentiles make his name their trust,
And learn his righteousness.

Let the whole earth his love proclaim,
    With all her different tongues;
And spread the honours of his name,
    In melody and songs.

C.M. Second Part. Arundel. Bethlehem. 
The Messiahs Coming and Kingdom.

Joy to the world — the Lord is come!
     Let earth receive her King:
Let every heart prepare him room,
     And heav'n and nature sing.

Joy to the earth — the Saviour reigns!
     Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains,
     Repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
     Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow,
     Far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
     And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness
     And wonders of his love.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748), 1719
from Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, 1834

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Isaac Watts biography

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Angels' Anthem / Harry Kemp

The Angels' Anthem

There was music on the hillside and singing in the glen,
And anthems heard in meadows when Christ was born to men:

The king slept on in blindness, though troubled in his sleep;
The high priest's ancient wisdom held no such lore in keep;

The trader and the merchant so bound by gain and rule.
And all the learned scholars who founded school on school,

The consul and the soldiers, their ears were stopped that night,
And only to the shepherds the angels brought delight. . . .

The shepherds heard the singing that charmed the listening air;
The shepherds saw the glory; the shepherds were aware:

There was music on the hillside and singing in the glen,
And anthems heard in meadows when Christ was born to men!

Harry Kemp (1883-1960)
from Chanteys and Ballads, 1920

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

Harry Kemp biography

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Paradise Lost / James Lewis Milligan

Paradise Lost

Christmas days in visions rise,
Days before my years were seven,
Ere I grew so worldly wise,
When I saw with other eyes,
And this earth was heaven.

I have grown into a man,
And discarded every toy,
Yet the child I never can,
He is there like Peter Pan
An immortal boy !

Still he hangs on Christmas Eve
His wee stockings on the bed,
Falls asleep in make-believe,
While the happy fairies weave
Dreams about his head.

Though I've studied Nature's laws,
Probed the world unto the heart;
Trac'd life to its primal cause
That old mystic Santa Claus
Smiles at all my art!

All our fine philosophy,
All the wisdom of the wise,
Is but that old fatal tree;
And our early infancy
Our lost Paradise!

James Lewis Milligan (1876-1961)
from Songs in Time's Despite, 1910

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Christmas Carol / Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol

I care not for spring; on his fickle wing
Let the blossoms and buds be borne:
He wooes them amain with his treacherous rain.
And he scatters them ere the morn.
An inconstant elf, he knows not himself
Nor his own changing mind an hoar.
He'll smile in your face, and, with wry grimace,
He'll wither your youngest flower.

Let the summer sun to his bright home run,
He shall never be sought by me;
When he's dimmed by a cloud I can laugh aloud,
And care not how sulky he be!
For his darling child is the madness wild
That sports in fierce fever's train;
And when love is too strong, it don't last long.
As many have found to their pain.

A mild harvest night, by the tranquil light
Of the modest and gentle moon,
Has a far sweeter sheen, for me, I ween,
Than the broad and onblushing noon.
But every leaf awakens my grief,
As it lieth beneath the tree;
So let autumn air be never so fair.
It by no means agrees with me.

But my song I troll out, for Christmas stout,
The hearty, the true, and the bold;
A thumper I drain, and with might and main
Give three cheers for this Christmas old!
We'll usher him in with a merry din
That shall gladden his joyous heart,
And we'll keep him up, while there's bite or sup.
And in fellowship good we'll part.

In his fine, honest pride, he scorns to hide
One jot of his hard-weather scars;
They're no disgrace, for there's m«ch the same trace
On the cheeks of our bravest tars.
Then again I sing, till the roof doth ring.
And it echoes from wall to wall —
To the stout old wight, fair welcome to-night,
As the King of the Seasons all!

Charles Dickens (1812-1870), 1837
from The Poems and Verses of Charles Dickens, 1903

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Charles Dickens biography

Monday, December 21, 2015

The winter night is hard as glass / Robert Hillyer


 The winter night is hard as glass;
The frozen stars hang stilly down;
I sit inside while people pass
From the dead-hearted town.

The tavern hearth is deep and wide,
The flames caress my glowing skin;
The icicles hang cold outside,
But I sit warm within.

The faces pass in blurring white
Outside the frosted window, lifting
Eyes against my cheerful night,
From their night of dreadful drifting.

Sharp breaths blow fast in a smoky gale,
Rags wander through the dull lamp light;
O my veins run gold with Christmas ale,
And the tavern fire is bright.

The midnight sky is clear as glass,
The stars hang frozen on the town,
I watch the dying people pass,
And I wrap me warm in my gown.

Robert Hillyer (1895-1961), 1919 
from The Five Books of Youth, 1920 

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

Robert Hillyer biography

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas, 1917 / Stella Benson

Christmas. 1917

A key no thief can steal, no time can rust;
A faery door, adventurous and golden;
A palace, perfect to our eyes — Ah must
Our eyes be holden ?

Has the past died before this present sin?
Has this most cruel age already stoned
To martyrdom that magic Day, within
Those halls enthroned ?

No. Through the dancing of the young spring rain,
Through the faint summer, and the autumn's burning.
Our still immortal Day has heard again
Our steps returning.

Stella Benson (1892-1933)
from Twenty, 1918

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

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Dead Leaves / Ethelwyn Wetherald

Dead Leaves

Dead leaves in the bird’s nest,
     And after that the snow;
That was where the bird’s breast
     Tenderly did go,
Where the tiny birds pressed
     Lovingly — and lo!
Dead leaves in the bird’s nest
     Under falling snow.

Dead leaves in the heart’s nest,
     And after that the snow;
That was where the heart’s guest
     Brooded months ago,
Where the tender thoughts pressed
     Lovingly — and lo!
Dead leaves in the heart’s nest
     Under falling snow.

Ethelwyn Wetherald (1857-1940)
from The Last Robin: Lyrics and sonnets, 1907

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

Ethelwyn Wetherald biography

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Late Autumn in the Hills / Laura Sherry

Late Autumn in the Hills

A flock of birds
Spurts down the trail of autumn.

Bare hills
Wrap fog-blankets about them,
And nod. . . .      

A whirl of wind
Scatters wild rice over the lake.

There is a shake of snow in the air.
My boat moors in the sedges.

My hand    
Droops over the side of the boat.
My fingers
Touch a lotus pod.
The seeds rattle in the husk.

Autumn is anchored.

Laura Sherry (1876-1947)
from Poetry, September 1922

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

Laura Sherry biography

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Lady of Autumn / C.F. MacIntyre

Lady of Autumn

Lady of Autumn, in your cold repose
  Dreaming among the brown-leaved empty vines
With sable robe drawn close, the night wind blows,
  And Winter with his icy hand prefines
Your lease on this bright garden of wild youth.      
  Soon you will nod by the dry sticks of age.
Lady of Autumn, do I speak the truth?—
  Put on red shoes, make Love a pilgrimage!

C.F. MacIntyre (1890-1967)
from Poetry, May 1920

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

C.F MacIntyre biography

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Ode: Autumn / Thomas Hood

Ode: Autumn

I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless like Silence, listening
To silence, for no lonely bird would sing
Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,
Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn;—      
Shaking his languid locks all dewy bright
With tangled gossamer that fell by night,
  Pearling his coronet of golden corn.

Where are the songs of Summer?— With the sun,
Oping the dusky eyelids of the south,
Till shade and silence waken up as one,
And Morning sings with a warm odorous mouth.
Where are the merry birds? —Away, away,
On panting wings through the inclement skies,
      Lest owls should prey
      Undazzled at noonday,
And tear with horny beak their lustrous eyes.

Where are the blooms of Summer?— In the west,
Blushing their last to the last sunny hours,
When the mild Eve by sudden Night is prest
Like tearful Proserpine, snatch'd from her flow'rs
      To a most gloomy breast.
Where is the pride of Summer,—the green prime,—
The many, many leaves all twinkling?—Three
On the moss'd elm; three on the naked lime
Trembling,—and one upon the old oak-tree!
  Where is the Dryad's immortality?—
Gone into mournful cypress and dark yew,
Or wearing the long gloomy Winter through
  In the smooth holly's green eternity.

The squirrel gloats on his accomplish'd hoard,
The ants have brimm'd their garners with ripe grain,
    And honey bees have stored
The sweets of Summer in their luscious cells;
The swallows all have wing'd across the main;
But here the Autumn melancholy dwells,
    And sighs her tearful spells
Amongst the sunless shadows of the plain.
      Alone, alone,
      Upon a mossy stone,
She sits and reckons up the dead and gone
With the last leaves for a love-rosary,
Whilst all the wither'd world looks drearily,
Like a dim picture of the drownèd past
In the hush'd mind's mysterious far away,
Doubtful what ghostly thing will steal the last
Into that distance, gray upon the gray.

O go and sit with her, and be o'ershaded
Under the languid downfall of her hair:
She wears a coronal of flowers faded
Upon her forehead, and a face of care;—
There is enough of wither'd everywhere
To make her bower,— and enough of gloom;
There is enough of sadness to invite,
If only for the rose that died, whose doom
Is Beauty's,— she that with the living bloom
Of conscious cheeks most beautifies the light:
There is enough of sorrowing, and quite
Enough of bitter fruits the earth doth bear,—
Enough of chilly droppings for her bowl;
Enough of fear and shadowy despair,
To frame her cloudy prison for the soul!

Thomas Hood (1799-1845)
from The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies, Hero and Leander, Lycus the Centaur, and other poems, 1827

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Thomas Hood biography

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Penny's Top 20 / November 2015

Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in November 2015:

  1.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
  2.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens 
  3.  Once Like a Light, AE Reiff
  4.  The Falling of the Leaves, W.B. Yeats
  5.  Dirge, Helen Dudley
  6.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance
Feuilles d'Automne, Duncan Campbell Scott
Toward Evening, Margaret DeLaughter
  9.  The Battle of Blenheim, Robert Southey

10.  There's Nothing Like the Sun, Edward Thomas

11.  Pine River Bay, Dorothy Dudley Harvey 
12.  My November Guest, Robert Frost

13.  The night is freezing fast, A.E. Housman
14.  The Ancient Game, Alfred Gordon
War, John Le Gay Brereton
16.  The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens
17.  Lorelei's Song, Heinrich Heine
18.  Vowels, Arthur Rimbaud
19.  Autumn, T.E. Hulme
20.  Wind and Silver, Amy Lowell

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The night is freezing fast / A.E. Housman


The night is freezing fast,
    To-morrow comes December;
          And winterfalls of old
Are with me from the past;
    And chiefly I remember
          How Dick would hate the cold.

Fall, winter, fall; for he,
    Prompt hand and headpiece clever,
          Has woven a winter robe,
And made of earth and sea
    His overcoat for ever,
          And wears the turning globe.

A.E. Housman (1859-1936)
from Last Poems, 1922

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

A.E. Housman biography

Saturday, November 28, 2015

My November Guest / Robert Frost

My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
  Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
  She walks the sodden pasture lane.    

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
  She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted gray
  Is silver now with clinging mist.    

The desolate, deserted trees,
  The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
  And vexes me for reason why.      

Not yesterday I learned to know
  The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
  And they are better for her praise.    

Robert Frost (1874-1963)
from A Boy's Will, 1913

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

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dirge / Helen Dudley


A night of strange longing
Of dark unrest
Has fallen over the sands.

Like ghosts that are thronging,
Pale shapes from the waters  
Arise and I see their hands.

I hear a faint weeping;
Autumn is dead;
Withered the leaves on the ground.

A gray mist is creeping    
Out of the north
With the stealth of an Indian’s hound.

Helen Dudley 
from Poetry, December 1917

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

Helen Dudley biography

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pine River Bay / Dorothy Dudley

Pine River Bay

The mimics dance in the cities,
Pavlowa in New York;
Death dances in Europe —
Like a bottle without cork,
Life loses its contents —
While the mimics dance in New York,
Offering the glories
Fabled in old stories.

But the leaves dance in the forest,
Gold and scarlet in the north;
And the gray waves dance,
And the wind stalks forth—
Like torn paper lanterns,
Like confetti in the north,
Leaves are whirling about,
A purple pallid rout.

Trees burn among the pines,
Rose and yellow torches;
The summer guests are gone,
Nobody sweeps their porches —  
Two or three lumbermen
Among the golden torches
Swing huge sledge hammers,
While the gray lake clambers.

Two of them love whiskey,
One has loved the sea;
All of them have faces
The wind has carved in glee.
The mimics dance in the cities,
Death across the sea —
Leaves dance in the north,
And the deer run forth.

Dorothy Dudley (1884-1962)
from Poetry, December 1917

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

Dorothy Dudley biography

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Toward Evening / Margaret DeLaughter

Toward Evening

The poppies just outside my door
  Still flaunt their crimson loveliness.
How can they blossom any more,
  Now I have lost my happiness?

Not any grief of mine can mar    
  The beauty of this tranquil weather.
Each evening, with the first pale star,
  Comes that same thrush we loved together,

And pours gold notes from every bough
  Of his old sacred apple-tree.  
But he has lost his magic now —
  He cannot sing you back to me.

Margaret DeLaughter
from Poetry, August 1921

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

Margaret DeLaughter biography

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Once Like a Light / AE Reiff

Once Like A Light

Once like a light in a sculpted city
That now lies dark under fallow ground,
So once the land unknown was full and free,
With cedarn  hill and golden meadow found.
I traveled to dawn, went toward the sun
To see this marvelous land, and it was good,
But there I saw a siege works and a gun,
Within the nation tops of watchtowers stood.

I went from the mountains to mourn the nations,
To grieve the fury, destruction and the death,
For over them I saw terror advancing,
Fear from the south, destruction from the north.
Below there stretched a molten lake,
Which sunset proved to be the blood of men,
It rose to the height of a horse’s bridle,
And flowed away with the rain.

I looked in the holy book, inquired
After this fair land, its destiny,
I sought thus many days and nights,
But I had no eyes with which to see.
Wars of Magog, northern powers and lands,
Decrees of pestilence and blood, hailstones,
Fire and valleys of bone and I closed the book,
This knowledge was too much for me.

I sat to await the tumult’s fall
When I heard a voice of thunder,
And turned to see as if one called from water,
And saw the form of a man.
I was lifted upward from the sun,
There it was, between the earth and heaven,
I saw all things were written in a book,
Which I read not for they are soon to come.

Then one said, these people need a warning,
Son of man how shall they hear?
I cried for grace but his eyes were fire
That pierced the cloud where I had hid my fear.
You shall go lest they escape their doom.
You shall go. Though I feared bitterly
When his hand was thus upon me,
Yes, I said, here I am LORD, sent me.

What is the fate of the beautiful people,
Will they win in the end? What of the siege,
How far does the field extend?
What is not written is told alone by age,
But the warning is not for them,
But lands turned inland far from sea.
Yes LORD, will you not send me to the beautiful,
Lest the day come and they know it not?

Such a strong and handsome people,
Theirs is a marvelous land, good above others,
Shall they not hear the warning voice?
Amen and Amen, so be it then,
There thy voice shall dwell.
I know this peoples’ boundless beauty,
But their foreheads are as flint.
A diamond shall thy forehead be,

Thy words a new sharped sword,
Lest they hear me and restore my word,
I give thee the vision of the land.
And he gave me a colored glass to see with,
And a written scroll to speak the warning word.
I opened my mouth and ate the scroll
And knew the words that it spoke,
And warning to the people thus I took.

AE Reiff, 2015

Encouragements for Planting

[All rights reserved by the author - Used with permission]

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Battle of Blenheim / Robert Southey

The Battle of Blenheim

It was a summer evening,
     Old Kaspar's work was done,
And he before his cottage door
     Was sitting in the sun,
And by him sported on the green
His little grandchild Wilhelmine.

She saw her brother Peterkin
     Roll something large and round
Which he beside the rivulet
     In playing there had found;
He came to ask what he had found,
That was so large, and smooth, and round.

Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
     Who stood expectant by;
And then the old man shook his head,
     And with a natural sigh,
"'Tis some poor fellow's skull," said he,
"Who fell in the great victory.

"I find them in the garden,
     For there's many here about;
And often when I go to plough,
     The ploughshare turns them out!
For many thousand men," said he,
"Were slain in that great victory."

"Now tell us what 'twas all about,"
     Young Peterkin, he cries;
And little Wilhelmine looks up
     With wonder-waiting eyes;
"Now tell us all about the war,
And what they fought each other for."

"It was the English," Kaspar cried,
     "Who put the French to rout;
But what they fought each other for
     I could not well make out;
But everybody said," quoth he,
"That 'twas a famous victory.

"My father lived at Blenheim then,
     Yon little stream hard by;
They burnt his dwelling to the ground,
     And he was forced to fly;
So with his wife and child he fled,
Nor had he where to rest his head.

"With fire and sword the country round
     Was wasted far and wide,
And many a childing mother then,
     And new-born baby died;
But things like that, you know, must be
At every famous victory.

"They said it was a shocking sight
     After the field was won;
For many thousand bodies here
     Lay rotting in the sun;
But things like that, you know, must be
After a famous victory.

"Great praise the Duke of Marlbro' won,
     And our good Prince Eugene."
"Why, 'twas a very wicked thing!"
     Said little Wilhelmine.
"Nay ... nay ... my little girl," quoth he,
"It was a famous victory."

"And everybody praised the Duke
     Who this great fight did win."
"But what good came of it at last?"
     Quoth little Peterkin.
"Why, that I cannot tell," said he,
"But 'twas a famous victory."

Robert Southey (1774-1843)
from Metrical Tales, and other poems, 1805

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Robert Southey biography

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Feuilles d'Automne / Duncan Campbell Scott

Feuilles d'Automne

Gather the leaves from the forest
  And blow them over the world,
The wind of winter follows
  The wind of autumn furled.

Only the beech tree cherishes
  A leaf or two for ruth,
Their stems too tough for the tempest,
  Like thoughts of love and of youth.

You may sit by the fire and ponder
  While darkness veils the pane,
And fear that your memories are rushing away
  In the wind and the rain.

But you'll find them in the quiet
  When the clouds race with the moon,
Making the tender silver sound
  Of a beech in the month of June.

For you cannot rob the memory
  Of the leaves it loves the best;
The wind of time may harry them,
  It rushes away with the rest.

Duncan Campbell Scott (1862-1947)
from Lundy's Lane, and other poems, 1916

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

Duncan Campbell Scott biography

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Falling of the Leaves / W.B. Yeats

The Falling of the Leaves

Autumn is over the long leaves that love us,
And over the mice in the barley sheaves;
Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us,
And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves.

The hour of the waning of love has beset us,
And weary and worn are our sad souls now;
Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us,
With a kiss and a tear on thy drooping brow.

William Butler Yeats
from Poems, 1895

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

William Butler Yeats biography

Monday, November 2, 2015

Penny's Top 20 / October 2015

Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in October 2015:

  1.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
  2.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens 
  3.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance
  4.  Purple, Glenn Ward Dresbach
  5.  The Poet's Hat, Robert Fuller Murray
  6.  October, Robert Frost
  7.  October, Ethelwyn Wetherald

  8.  Autumn, T.E. Hulme

  9.  Call Back Our Dead, F.G. Scott

10.  Autumn Orchards, Clark Ashton Smith

11.  Autumn, Gladys Cromwell
12.  Indian Summer, Edna Dean Proctor

13.  Mid-October, Helen Birch Bartlett
14.  October, Jewell Bothwell Tull
Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens
16.  A City Sunset, T.E. Hulme
17.  October, Ellis Parker Butler
18.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
19.  The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens
20.  In June and Gentle Oven, Anne Wilkinson

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, November 1, 2015

There's Nothing Like the Sun / Edward Thomas

There's Nothing Like the Sun

There's nothing like the sun as the year dies,
Kind as it can be, this world being made so,
To stones and men and beasts and birds and flies,
To all things that it touches except snow,
Whether on mountain side or street of town.
The south wall warms me: November has begun,
Yet never shone the sun as fair as now
While the sweet last-left damsons from the bough
With spangles of the morning's storm drop down
Because the starling shakes it, whistling what
Once swallows sang. But I have not forgot
That there is nothing, too, like March's sun,
Like April's, or July's, or June's, or May's,
Or January's, or February's, great days:
And August, September, October, and December
Have equal days, all different from November.
No day of any month but I have said —
Or, if I could live long enough, should say —
"There's nothing like the sun that shines to-day"
There's nothing like the sun till we are dead.

Edward Thomas (1878-1917)
from Poems, 1917

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

Edward Thomas biography

Saturday, October 31, 2015

October / Ellis Parker Butler


The forest holds high carnival to-day,
And every hill-side glows with gold and fire;
Ivy and sumac dress in colors gay,
And oak and maple mask in bright attire.

The hoarded wealth of sober autumn days
In lavish mood for motley garb is spent,
And nature for the while at folly plays,
Knowing the morrow brings a snowy Lent.

Ellis Parker Bell (1869-1937)

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

Ellis Parker Butler biography

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mid-October / Helen Birch Bartlett


Leaves whirl about my feet;
Leaves, leaves dance over my head —
Brown leaves.
And their madness and love of death blow through my heart.
(Oh, the perfume of these drifting golden leaves!)      

What wine can stain the soul with redder glory
Than this wild, sudden thirst for sudden death?

They rise like clouds of incense
From swift-swinging golden censers —
Clouds and clouds!    
And the western sky is a glow of light
As yellow and white as the face of a Christian saint.

Autumn, autumn!
I will not live!
I’ll go now, now, with all my memories and my joys.    

I will not live
To have them blown
Like ashes from an altar by capricious winds.

Helen Birch Bartlett (1883-1925)
from Poetry, October 1917

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

Helen Birch Bartlett biography

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Autumn Orchards / Clark Ashton Smith

Autumn Orchards

Walled with far azures of the wintering year,
Late autumn on a windless altar burns;
Splendid as rubies from Sabean urns,
A holocaust of hues is gathered here.

The pear-trees lift a Tyrian tinged with blood;
Strange purples brighten in the smouldering plums;
The fire-red gold of peach and cherry comes
To storm the bronzing borders of the wood.

Rich as the pyre of some Hesperian queen,
Feeding the ultimate sunset with sad fires,
Is this, where beauty with her doom conspires
To tell in flame what death and beauty mean.

O, loveliness grown tragical and dear!
My heart has taken from the torchful leaf
A swiftly soaring glory, and the grief
Of love is colored like the dying year.

Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961)
from Sandalwood, 1925

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Clark Ashton Smith biography

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October / Ethelwyn Wetherald


Against the winter’s heav’n of white the blood
     Of earth runs very quick and hot to-day;
     A storm of fiery leaves are out at play
Around the lingering sunset of the wood.
Where rows of blackberries unnoticed stood,
     Run streams of ruddy color wildly gay;
     The golden lane half dreaming picks its way
Through ’whelming vines, as through a gleaming flood.
O warm, outspoken earth, a little space
     Against thy beating heart my heart shall beat,
          A little while they twain shall bleed and burn,
And then the cold touch and the gray, gray face,
     The frozen pulse, the drifted winding-sheet,
          And speechlessness, and the chill burial urn.

Ethelwyn Wetherald (1857-1940)
from The House of the Trees, and other poems, 1895

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

Ethelwyn Wetherald biography 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Purple / Glenn Ward Dresbach


Purple grapes hung in the purpling gloom.
Frail purple flowers swayed in the musky grass.
I caught a breath of passionate perfume,
And saw you pass
(A shadow in motion, a drifting purple hue)
And I reached out my arms and called to you —
Only to lose you in purpling shadows that between us came.
Nothing I heard but the autumn winds whispering your name.
Maddened I rushed to find you, to hold you in my caress,
But my open arms closed only on purple emptiness.
I called . . . No answer came.
Nothing I heard but the autumn winds whispering your name.

Glenn Ward Dresbach (1889-1968)
from In the Paths of the Wind, 1917

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

Glenn Ward Dresbach biography

Monday, October 12, 2015

Indian Summer / Edna Dean Proctor

Indian Summer

'Tis Indian Summer's richest, latest day;
The skies are bending down, serenly blue;
And, to the south wind's sigh, the branches sway
With answering music as they lightly strew
Upon the ground beneath, the gorgeous leaves
Of russet-green and ruby-red and gold,
So bright, my heart, sad as the south wind, grieves
To see their glories sinking in the mould!
And every gay and gladsome thing seems taking
A lingering leave of grove and field and sky;
Birds, all the glens and forest aisles forsaking,
In croft and orchard sweet lament are making
For roses dead and loveless winter nigh.
The bees are hovering o'er the lonely flowers,
The gift of mild September's sunny hours--
Pale asters that have lived through frosty eves,
And still in languid beauty tint their leaves
Amid the mountain fern, that yet retains
Its fragrant breath through all the autumnal rains,
And meek immortelles that, till snows appear,
Will mourn the buried splendors of the year;
While squirrels haste with nuts and acorns brown
That every waft above the wood brings down;
And, on the wing, a golden butterfly,
The last, the loveliest, is flitting by.
So calm! so fair! yet well I know at morn
Wild winds will blow till all the groves are shorn,
And soft mists vanish and the mountains rise
Cold and severe in melancholy skies.
Now fades the sun from hill and stream and dell--
O mellow Indian Summer! fare thee well!

Edna Dean Proctor (1827-1923)
from Poems, 1866

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Edna Dean Proctor biography

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Poet's Hat / Robert Fuller Murray

The Poet's Hat

The rain had fallen, the Poet arose,
     He passed through the doorway into the street,
A strong wind lifted his hat from his head,
     And he uttered some words that were far from sweet.
And then he started to follow the chase,
     And put on a spurt that was wild and fleet,
It made the people pause in a crowd,
     And lay odds as to which would beat.

The street cad scoffed as he hunted the hat,
     The errand-boy shouted hooray!
The scavenger stood with his broom in his hand,
     And smiled in a very rude way;
And the clergyman thought, 'I have heard many words,
     But never, until to-day,
Did I hear any words that were quite so bad
     As I heard that young man say.'

Robert Fuller Murray (1863-1894)
from The Scarlet Gown, 1891

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Robert Fuller Murray biography

Saturday, October 10, 2015

October / Jewell Bothwell Tull (4 poems)


The sob that comes after the weeping is over,
The smile after laughter,
Faith when youth’s gone and death beckons:
The sum of life, plus a dream.


I don't know whether October’s a man or a woman.
When I say She, He looks at me with such masculine eyes;
And when I say He,
She shakes her red head at me.
So I think maybe      
October’s a child — or a god.

Foolish Bird

Foolish bird,
  Do you think, because the rain’s over
  And the sun’s in your eyes,
  Summer’s here again?
  Don’t you know it’s October?—      
Foolish bird that sings in my heart.

Gray River

Gray river,
  Do you care that the wind’s kisses are cold now?
  That they are putting away the little summer boats?


Just when the year learns
  What life is all about,
Just when she learns it’s not youth
  Nor summer’s hot kisses
Nor even maternity,    
Just when she knows
  What it’s all for —
Winter and spring and summer,
The sum of it — October!

Next month you’ll be so gray and tired,    
And then so still and white.

Jewell Bothwell Tull (1889-1963)
from Poetry, October 1922

[Poems are in the public domain in Canada and the United States]

Jewell Bothwell Tull biography

Sunday, October 4, 2015

October / Robert Frost


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost —
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)
from A Boy's Will, 1913

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

Robert Frost biography

Penny's Top 20 / September 2015

Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in September 2015:

  1.  Song at Summer's End, A.R.D. Fairbairn
  2.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance
  3.  Autumn Dawn, Charles Hamilton Sorley
  4.  September Idyl: In the hammock, Arthur Symons
  5.  Summer Rain, John Davidson
  6.  Autumn, Francesca Rios
  7.  The trees have never seemed so green, Robert Hillyer

  8.  The Summer Rain, John Askham

Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens 
10.  September 1913, William Butler Yeats

11.  The End of Summer, Madison Cawein
12.  The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens

13.  Sensation, Arthur Rimbaud
14.  Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens
15.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy

16.  Dejeuner sur l'herbe, Edith Sitwell
17.  Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?, William Shakespeare
18.  News, AE Reiff
19.  Wind and Silver, Amy Lowell
20.  The Soul of Summer, Edward Sapir

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Autumn / Gladys Cromwell


Capricious little poem and sapling rhyme
Grew on the golden hillside of my youth.
The stanzas were as crooked and uncouth
As early things are wont to be. For time
Was pressing and mid-summer's glowing prime
Was ever imminent. Mysterious truth
Was the warm soil thought sprouted from.
My songs were stem and filament to climb.
But now, the memory of bud and fruit
And flower is weariness. This present week
In mid-September, wayward wild pursuit
Is over; youth fulfilled. How shall they seek
Beyond, unless from sunbeams in the skies
These listless leaves take warmer harmonies?

Gladys Cromwell (1885-1919)
from The Gates of Utterance, and other poems, 1915

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

Gladys Cromwell biography

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Autumn Dawn / Charles Hamilton Sorley

Autumn Dawn

And this is morning. Would you think
That this was the morning, when the land
Is full of heavy eyes that blink
Half-opened, and the tall trees stand
Too tired to shake away the drops
Of passing night that cling around
Their branches and weigh down their tops:
And the grey sky leans on the ground?
The thrush sings once or twice, but stops
Affrighted by the silent sound.
The sheep, scarce moving, munches, moans.
The slow herd mumbles, thick with phlegm.
The grey road-mender, hacking stones,
Is now become as one of them.

Old mother Earth has rubbed her eyes
And stayed, so senseless, lying down.
Old mother is too tired to rise
And lay aside her grey nightgown,
And come with singing and with strength
In loud exuberance of day,
Swift-darting. She is tired at length,
Done up, past bearing, you would say.
She'll come no more in lust of strife,
In hedges' leap, and wild birds' cries,
In winds that cut you like a knife,
In days of laughter and swift skies,
That palpably pulsate with life,
With life that kills, with life that dies.
But in a morning such as this
Is neither life nor death to see,
Only that state which some call bliss,
Grey hopeless immortality.
Earth is at length bedrid. She is
Supinest of the things that be:
And stilly, heavy with long years,
Brings forth such days in dumb regret,
Immortal days, that rise in tears,
And cannot, though they strive to, set.

Charles Hamilton Sorley (1895-1915)
from Marlborough, and other poems, 1919

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Charles Hamilton Sorley biography

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Autumn / Francesca Rios


My maple tree is yellow green
Against a blue-gray sky.
In little groups of three and four
I see the restless pigeons fly.

The air is rain-washed — fresh and sweet,  
Mingled with pungent scent of pine.
Kissed by the faintest glint of sun,
Amber and bronze the poplars shine.

He knew the woods — how many times
I’ve seen him tramping in the rain,  
Singing among the trees he loved
The songs I’ll never hear again!

Francesca Rios
from Poetry, November 1922

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

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Song at Summer's End / A.R.D. Fairburn

Song at Summer's End

Down in the park the children play
rag-happy through the summer day
with dirty feet and freckled faces,
laughing, fighting, running races.
Dull against the smoky skies
the summer's heavy burden lies,
leaden leaves on tired trees
lacking supple limbs like these.

The skyline shows the shape of life,
tomorrow's world of sweat and strife,
fifty stacks and one grey steeple.
Down the street come factory people,
folk who used to play on swings,
dodging chores and apron-strings
to wrestle on the grass and run
barefoot with the fleeting sun.

Some of the kids are sailing boats;
the first leaf drops unheeded, floats
and dances on the muddy pond.
Shadows from the world beyond
lengthen, sprawl across the park;
day rolls onward towards the dark.
From the clock-tower, wreathed in smoke,
Time speaks gravely, stroke on stroke.

A.R.D. Fairburn (1904-1957), 1947
from Strange Rendezvous: Poems, 1929-1941, with additions, 1952

[poem is in the public domain in Canada]

A.R.D. Fairburn biography

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The End of Summer / Madison Cawein

The End of Summer

The rose, that wrote its message on the noon's
Bright manuscript, has turned her perfumed face
Towards Fall, and waits, heart-heavy, for the moon's
     Pale flower to take her place.

With eyes distraught, and dark disheveled hair,
The Season dons a tattered cloak of storm
And waits with Night that, darkly, seems to share
     Her trouble and alarm.

It is the close of summer. In the sky
The sunset lit a fire of drift and sat
Watching the last Day, robed in empire, die
     Upon the burning ghat.

The first leaf crimsons and the last rose falls,
And Night goes stalking on, her cloak of rain
Dripping, and followed through her haunted halls
     By ail Death's phantom train.

The sorrow of the Earth and all that dies,
And all that suffers, in her breast she bears;
Outside the House of Life she stops and cries
     The burden of her cares.

Then on the window knocks with crooked hands,
Her tree-like arms to Heaven wildly-hurled:
Love hears her crying, "Who then understands?—
     Has God forgot the world?"

Madison Cawein (1865-1914)
from The Cup of Comus: Fact and fancy, 1915

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]