Saturday, February 28, 2015

If Winter Remain / Clark Ashton Smith

If Winter Remain

Hateful, and most abhorred,
about us the season
of sleet, of snow and of frost
reaches, and seems unending
as plains whereon
lashed prisoners go,
chained, and enforced
to labor in glacial mines,
digging the baubles of greybeard kings,
of bleak Polarian lords.

Benumbed and failing
we languish for shores Canopic
that founder to vaults of fire,
for streams of ensanguined lotus
drinking the candent flame
with lips unsered, unsated,
for valleys wherein no shadow,
whether of cassia or cypress,
shall harbor the ghost of ice,
the winter's etiolate phantom.
Benumbed and failing,
we languish for shores Canopic
that founder to vaults of fire.

Fain would we hail the summer,
like slaves endungeoned
beneath some floe-built fortress,
greeting their liberator,
the hero in golden mail. . .
But . . . if summer should come no more,
and winter remain
a stark colossus
bestriding the years?
if, silent and pale,
with marmoreal armor,
the empire of cold
should clasp the world
to its rimed equator
beneath the low,
short arc of the sun,
out-ringed by the far-flung
orbit of death?

Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961)

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Clark Ashton Smith biography

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Last Week of February, 1890 / Robert Bridges

Last Week of February, 1890 

Hark to the merry birds, hark how they sing
     Although 'tis not yet spring
          And keen the air;
Hale Winter, half resigning ere he go,
     Doth to his heiress show
          His kingdom fair.

In patient russet is his forest spread,
     All bright with bramble red,
          With beechen moss
And holly sheen: the oak silver and stark
     Sunneth his aged bark
          And wrinkled boss.

But neath the ruin of the withered brake
     Primroses now awake
          From nursing shades:
The crumpled carpet of the dry leaves brown
     Avails not to keep down
          The hyacinth blades.

The hazel hath put forth his tassels ruffed;
     The willow's flossy tuft
          Hath slipped him free:
The rose amid her ransacked orange hips
     Braggeth the tender tips
          Of bowers to be.

A black rook stirs the branches here and there,
     Foraging to repair
          His broken home:
And hark, on the ash-boughs! Never thrush did sing
     Louder in praise of spring,
          When spring is come.

Robert Bridges
from Shorter Poems, 1890

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

Robert Bridges biography

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Too Much of the "Beautiful Snow" / S. Moore

Too Much of the "Beautiful Snow"

They may sing of the beautiful snow
Who dwell in a sunnier clime;
For me I would rather bestow
My songs on a theme more sublime.

I long for the beautiful Spring
When the snow, we have had half a year,
Will dissolve, and the little birds sing
With joy when the flowers appear.

In this bleak hyperborean clime
Our winters are chilly and long,
And oft prove a wearysome time
Not worthy a jubilant song.

It is all very well for the rich
Whose comforts are ever in view;
But hard upon women who stitch,
And men who have nothing to do.

Our winters are hard on the poor
And trying to both young and old,
Who have fuel and food to procure,
And suffer the terrible cold.

How oft, when the stormy winds blow
And the sky is with clouds overcast,
And facing the cold drifting snow,
We wish the dread winter was past.

Even now, while I write, the rude storm
Is kicking the clouds 'neath his feet,
While the snow-mounds in many a form
Are raising blockades on the street.

When I sing of the snow, let my lay
Be a wail that is plaintive and sad;
And when the ice passes away
O! won't I rejoice and be glad!

And when Flora revisits our earth
I'll join with all nature and sing
With a heart overflowing with mirth,
A song to the beautiful Spring.

S. Moore
from Poems, 1887

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

S. Moore biography

Monday, February 16, 2015

In Violet Light / George J. Dance

In Violet Light

In violet light the fields are filled with snow,
Which drifts in blue-white wavelets, row by row.
Two frozen burial mounds are heaped up high
Beside the road where walks a weary guy,
Lumbering home another mile or so.

From time to time a lone car crunches by,
But never stops, and leaves him with the cry
Of howling winds which never cease to blow
In violet light,

The brutal winds that sting and stab each eye,
And whip his face until he, too, must cry.
His freezing body, numbed from foot to thigh,
Demanding he lie down a while, to die,
He trudges on: Just one more mile to go
In violet light.

George J. Dance

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

George J. Dance biography

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Snow Storm / Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Snow Storm 

No hawk hangs over in this air:
The urgent snow is everywhere.
The wing adroiter than a sail
Must lean away from such a gale,
Abandoning its straight intent,
Or else expose tough ligament
And tender flesh to what before
Meant dampened feathers, nothing more.

Forceless upon our backs there fall
Infrequent flakes hexagonal,
Devised in many a curious style
To charm our safety for a while,
Where close to earth like mice we go
Under the horizontal snow.

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
from Poetry, May 1939

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Edna St. Vincent Millay biography

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Beloved / Govinda Krishna Chettur


You are the Rose of me,
In you have I lost myself utterly,
Your fragrance, as a breath from Paradise,
About me ever lies;
I crush you to my heart with subtlest ecstasy
And on your lips I live, and in your passionate eyes.

You are the Dream of me,
My visions many-footed flit and flee
Beneath the jewelled arches of Life's grace:
But through lone nights and days,
One form I follow, and mine eyes but see
The dear delightful wonder of your love-lit face.

You are the Greatness of me,
My thoughts are Beauty shaped exquisitely
To the rare pattern of your loveliness
Exceeding all excess:
And the strange magic of this mystery,
Steals weight from burdened hours, and woe from weariness.

Govinda Krishna Chettur (1898-1936)
from Sounds and Images, 1921

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

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Country Boy Sliding / Robert P.T. Coffin

Country Boy Sliding

On all the white miles of fine snow
Between high sprucewoods and the bay
There was only one living thing,
A farm boy at his Winter play.

He pulled his new sled up the hill,
Lifted it without a smile,
Ran, and threw himself on it
And soberly hurtled half a mile.

He rose and dusted diamonds off
His scarf and breeches, took the rope
And drew his sled with lonely eyes
Up the long hill's lonely slope.

The slider took his pleasure deep
As quiet country people do,
Without lost motion or a sound
Through sober loveliness he flew.

In crystal beauty like a trance
This was all there was of joy
To point the world-wide stillness up,
A rapt unsmiling little boy.

The rabbits sat along the swamp,
Each on his cushion there behind,
They watched with grave approval this
Pleasure so of their own kind.

The little boy made an intense
Business of his Winter fun
Until the spruces swallowed up
The golden cartwheel of the sun.

Then on short legs he took home,
Without a whistle, by deep starlight,
A joy as deep in him for good
As a strong man's wedding night.

Robert P.T. Coffin (1892-1955)
from Apples by Ocean, 1950

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Wood-pile / Robert Frost

The Wood-pile

Out walking in the frozen swamp one gray day,
I paused and said, 'I will turn back from here.
No, I will go on farther — and we shall see.'
The hard snow held me, save where now and then
One foot went through. The view was all in lines
Straight up and down of tall slim trees
Too much alike to mark or name a place by
So as to say for certain I was here
Or somewhere else: I was just far from home.
A small bird flew before me. He was careful
To put a tree between us when he lighted,
And say no word to tell me who he was
Who was so foolish as to think what he thought.
He thought that I was after him for a feather—
The white one in his tail; like one who takes
Everything said as personal to himself.
One flight out sideways would have undeceived him.
And then there was a pile of wood for which
I forgot him and let his little fear
Carry him off the way I might have gone,
Without so much as wishing him good-night.
He went behind it to make his last stand.
It was a cord of maple, cut and split
And piled—and measured, four by four by eight.
And not another like it could I see.
No runner tracks in this year's snow looped near it.
And it was older sure than this year's cutting,
Or even last year's or the year's before.
The wood was gray and the bark warping off it
And the pile somewhat sunken. Clematis
Had wound strings round and round it like a bundle.
What held it though on one side was a tree
Still growing, and on one a stake and prop,
These latter about to fall. I thought that only
Someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks
Could so forget his handiwork on which
He spent himself, the labor of his ax,
And leave it there far from a useful fireplace
To warm the frozen swamp as best it could
With the slow smokeless burning of decay.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)
from North of Boston, 1914

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

Robert Frost biography

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Penny's Top 20 / January 2015

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

  1.  It sifts from Leaden Sieves, Emily Dickinson
  2.  On a Ferry Passing New York City, Michael Strange
  3.  Impressions, Beatrice Redpath
  4.  Snow, Edward Thomas
  5.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens 
  6.  London Snow, Robert Bridges
  7.  Autumn, George Sterling

  8.  New Year's Day, Violet Fane

  9.  Snow Dusk, David Morton

10.  Songs, Demonspawn

11.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
Toboggan, Ben King
13.  January Dusk, John Drinkwater
14.  New Year, Richard Le Gallienne
15.  Winter-Time, Robert Louis Stevenson

16.  A Winter's Tale, D.H. Lawrence
17.  Mad as the Mist and Snow, W.B. Yeats
18.  The Blue Heron, Theodore Goodridge Roberts
19.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance
20.  Talking in Their Sleep, Edith M. Thomas

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Winter: A Dirge / Robert Burns

Winter: A Dirge


The wintry west extends his blast,
And hail and rain does blaw;
Or the stormy north sends driving forth
The blinding sleet and snaw:
While, tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
And roars frae bank to brae;
And bird and beast in covert rest,
And pass the heartless day.


"The sweeping blast, the sky o'ercast,"
The joyless winter day
Let others fear, to me more dear
Than all the pride of May:
The tempest's howl, it soothes my soul,
My griefs it seems to join;
The leafless trees my fancy please,
Their fate resembles mine!


Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme
These woes of mine fulfil,
Here firm I rest; they must be best,
Because they are Thy will!
Then all I want - O do Thou grant
This one request of mine!-
Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,
Assist me to resign.

Robert Burns (1759-1796), 1781
from Poems: Chiefly in the Scottish dialect, 1793

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Robert Burns biography