Saturday, January 31, 2015

Winter-Time / Robert Louis Stevenson


Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.

Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.

Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap;
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.

Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding-cake.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
from A Child's Garden of Verses, 1905

[Poem is in the public domain world-wide]

Robert Louis Stevenson biography

Sunday, January 25, 2015

London Snow / Robert Bridges

from Shorter Poems, Book III:


London Snow

When men were all asleep the snow came flying,
In large white flakes falling on the city brown,
Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,
     Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;
Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;
Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:
     Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;
Hiding difference, making unevenness even,
Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.
     All night it fell, and when full inches seven
It lay in the depth of its uncompacted lightness,
Its clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven;
     And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness
Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:
The eye marvelled-marvelled at the dazzling whiteness;
     The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air;
No sound of wheel rumbling nor of foot falling,
And the busy morning cries came thin and spare.
     Then boys I heard, as they went to school, calling,
They gathered up the crystal manna to freeze
Their tongues with tasting, their hands with snow-balling;
     Or rioted in a drift, plunging up to the knees;
Or peering up from under the white-mossed wonder,
'O look at the trees!' they cried, 'O look at the trees!'
     With lessened load a few carts creak and blunder,
Following along the white deserted way,
A country company long dispersed asunder:
     When now already the sun, in pale display
Standing by Paul's high dome, spread forth below
His sparkling beams, and awoke the stir of the day.
     For now doors open, and war is waged with the snow;
And trains of sombre men, past tale of number,
Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go:
     But even for them awhile no cares encumber
Their minds diverted; the daily word unspoken,
The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber
At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the
          charm they have broken.

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, January 24, 2015

Impressions / Beatrice Redpath


Early Snow

The leaves hung black,
Limp blossoms without scent
Drooped pitifully;
But in the night the earth has laid
White sheets above its dead.


In my garden to-night
The trees seem heavy with snow,
And tiny candles are alight
On every bough;
But I smell apple blossoms,
And the wings of a firefly
Touched my hand.

Before the Storm

Heat . . . tenseness and heat,
The sky seems stretched too tight,
While massed grey clouds
Are as packed feathers holding back the air.


The little houses crouch under the drifted snow,
Their windows like small bright eyes
Blinking into the sunlight.

Beatrice Redpath (1886-1937)
from White Lilac, 1922

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

Beatrice Redpath biography

Sunday, January 18, 2015

It sifts from Leaden Sieves / Emily Dickinson

It sifts from Leaden Sieves —
It powders all the Wood.
It fills with Alabaster Wool
The Wrinkles of the Road —

It makes an Even Face
Of Mountain, and of Plain —
Unbroken Forehead from the East
Unto the East again —

It reaches to the Fence —
It wraps it Rail by Rail
Till it is lost in Fleeces —
It deals Celestial Vail

To Stump, and Stack — and Stem —
A Summer’s empty Room —
Acres of Joints, where Harvests were,
Recordless, but for them —

It Ruffles Wrists of Posts
As Ankles of a Queen —
Then stills its Artisans — like Ghosts —
Denying they have been —

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Snow / Edward Thomas


In the gloom of whiteness,
In the great silence of snow,
A child was sighing
And bitterly saying: "Oh,
They have killed a white bird up there on her nest,
The down is fluttering from her breast."
And still it fell through that dusky brightness
On the child crying for the bird of the snow.

Edward Thomas (1878-1917)
from Last Poems, 1918

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

Edward Thomas biography

Sunday, January 11, 2015

On a Ferry passing New York City in January /
Michael Strange

On a Ferry Passing New York City in January

To-night there will be snow.
On my left beholding
Those rearing contours
Vastly built,
Tallest exclamations of greed itself
– Becoming ever more ghostly –
As around their base
And languidly curling like incense,
Smoke, from furnaces nourishing
To the lust of trades,
Beholding these builded reflections
Waving their night-blue columns
Between ice floes,
Beholding their roofs
Conicaled! templed! pyramided!
Becoming lost amongst the skies!
Sorrowing obscurity,
Beholding gulls, dawn-coloured,
Shrieking from ice block to ice block
Over gashes of deadening black water;
Aye, listening to the silence of the wind,
Oppressed within the limned hollows of the air,
I know there to be among the heavens
Torrents of white dust,
A whisper from chaos awaiting
To descend,
Plunging us all
In pale glittering confusion –
For to-night there will be snow.

Michael Strange (1890-1950)
from Poems, 1919

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

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Snow Dusk / David Morton

Snow Dusk

The iron twilight closes, and the steep
     Gates of the day where late the light was hurled,
Swing to on silent hinges, and a sleep,
     A still, white sleep is fallen on the world.
There is no stir these trackless miles around:
     The Earth is turned a grey cathedral close,
Where is forgot all motion and all sound,
     Beneath these smooth, obliterating snows.

One burning taper trembles . . . and the sky
     Curves like a dome where cloudy anthems are,
Above immaculate distances that lie
     In thoughtful adoration of a star . . .
Earth has her veil, and takes her silent vow:
Nothing save holiness is left her now.

David Morton (1886-1957)
from Ships in Harbor, and other poems, 1921

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

David Morton biography

Saturday, January 3, 2015

January Dusk / John Drinkwater

January Dusk

Austere and clad in sombre robes of grey,
     With hands upfolded and with silent wings,
In unimpassioned mystery the day
     Passes; a lonely thrush its requiem sings.

The dust of night is tangled in the boughs
     Of leafless lime and lilac, and the pine
Grows blacker, and the star upon the brows
     Of sleep is set in heaven for a sign.

Earth's little weary peoples fall on peace
     And dream of breaking buds and blossoming,
Of primrose airs, of days of large increase.
     And all the coloured retinue of spring.

John Drinkwater (1882-1937)
from Poems of Men and Hours, 1911

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

John Drinkwater biography 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Day / Violet Fane

New Year's Day

As, in a week, alternate days
     Are bright with sun, or dark with storm,
     As some are chill, and some are warm
With southern winds, and sunny rays —

So, in men's lives, the changing years
     Bring mirth or sorrow, joy or pain,
     Some heralded with merry strain.
Some with a passing bell, and tears;

But as those years, that now are gone
     With drooping heads, and folded wings.
     Into the dusk of bygone things.
Resembled not this new-fled one —

So, to the hearts that now are sad,
     May come new hopes of joy and peace,
     So, to the gay, fears lest they cease,
Those joys that made the past year glad,

To thee and me, the uncoin'd hour
     May bring a world of change unguess'd,
     (Save to that love, which in my breast
Blooms like some fair immortal flower).

For thee I wish each coming day
     May bring upon its bosom fair
     Some hidden blessing, and that Care
At its light step may haste away!

And as for me, no greater bliss
     I ask of Time, than that he may
     Bring thy heart nearer mine each day,
And thy lips nearer to my kiss!

Or if, to both, the coming years
     Are bound in equal share to bring
     New pleasures, and new sorrowing,
Take thou the smiles, leave me the tears!

Violet Fane (1843-1905)
from From Dawn to Noon: Poems, 1872

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Violet Fane biography

Penny's Top 20 / December 2014

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

  1.  Toboggan, Ben King
  2.  When May paints azure all above, Gertrude Hall
  3.  How like a winter hath my absence been, William Shakespeare
  4.  Christmas Eve, Edgar Guest
  5.  The Farmer's Bride, Charlotte Mew
  6.  It's September, Edgar Guest
  7.  The Cold Heaven, W.B. Yeats

  8.  Twelfth Night, or King and Queen, Robert Herrick

  9.  December, Dollie Radford

10.  Christmas, G.A. Studdert Kennedy

11.  Penny (or Penny's Hat), George J. Dance 
12.  Christ's Nativity, Henry Vaughan

13.  Christmas Carol, May Probyn
14.  O Happy Christmas Days of Old, Arthur Wentworth Eaton
15.  Christmas Bells, Edward Robeson Taylor

16.  Mary Tired, Marjorie Pickthall
17.  The Weeping Babe, Katharine Tynan

18.  Peace on Earth, Edwin Arlington Robinson
19.  Winter Night, Robert Silliman Hillyer

20. The Blue Heron, Theodore Goodridge Roberts

Source: Blogger, "Stats"