Sunday, May 31, 2015

This Lane in May / David Morton

This Lane in May

A fragrance lingers, though the rains be done;
     And apple-trees have shaken from their hair
The thin and shining blossoms, one by one,
     Starring the roadway like a silver stair.
And something softer than the rain comes by,
     Older and dearer than these bright, new days:
An odour ... or a trick of lights that lie
     Familiar on these grass-grown, rutted ways.

This lane in May is such a haunted thing,
     For all the newness of the rain-wet trees:
An old, old May, remembered of the Spring,
     Returning ghostwise on such days as these,
Moves in the blowing odours where they pass,
Trailing these scattered blossoms in the grass.

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

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

Saturday, May 30, 2015

One Day in May / Clinton Scollard

One Day in May

Do you recall, old friend, how we
Pulled up the Wye one day in May?
The bloom was on the hawthorn tree,
And many an upland meadow way
Showed plots of hyacinths as blue
As glints of sky the clouds let through.

We left gray Chepstow's walls behind,—
Its crumbling keep, its burst of chimes;
With us went wooingly the wind,
Repeating little liquid rhymes;
And with us, too, the tide's long sweep
From Severn and the outer deep.

Spring's choristers from either shore
Flung us their softly silvery hail;
Each time we raised or dipped the oar,
Lo, the sweet burden of a tale
As ancient as the hills, and keyed
To match our spirits' vernal need!

The heights slipped by; the lowlands swung
Like wingèd dreams athwart our ken;
Thatched farmsteads where the ivy clung
Swam in the westering light, and then,
Beyond lush tree and lichened stile,
Loomed Tintern's dim monastic pile.

We shipped the oars and stepped to land;
Sauntered the village streets, and clomb
Wide loops of path until we scanned
The valley,— water, wood and loam
Umber beneath the plowman's blade,
Or in faint gold and green arrayed.

Into a hill gap drooped the sun,
Flooding divinely, ere it went,
The abbey windows one by one
With an ethereal ravishment,—
Ambers and crimsons such as play
About the funeral pyre of day.

Then twilight's purples, and her peace,
And the calm lifting of the moon!
O Memory, may'st thou never cease
To grant to me this gracious boon,—
The vision of that bygone time
When May and youth were both at prime!

Clinton Scollard (1860-1932)
from Voices and Visions, 1908 

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

Clinton Scollard biography

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The May Tree / Radclyffe Hall

The May Tree

A garden in the month of May, 
The fading of a golden day 
     Upon the tulip flowers. 
An anthem sung by little birds, 
The sigh more eloquent than words 
     Of earth to listening hours. 

And shadows . . . like the fringe that lies 
On cheek, at close of drowsy eyes, 
     And paths, grown damp with dew; 
And secret places, where to tread 
Were to disturb the bridal bed 
     Of creatures born anew. 

And fairer than each living thing 
That stirs with longings of the Spring, 
     A May tree, bearing flower. 
Like some young nymph the sunlight charms 
She stretches forth her slender arms, 
     New decked with leafy dower, 

While through her wondrous, living form 
The sap of life leaps strong and warm, 
     Awaking from repose 
The folded buds to know the Spring, 
It seems I almost hear them sing 
     For rapture as it flows. 

Ay! and it seems as though my heart 
Strained upward, but to take some part 
     In that sweet hymn of praise; 
As though my pulses quicker beat, 
To see perfection so complete 
     Revealed to my gaze. 

As though the problem of unrest 
Were solved at last, in this behest 
     To silently fulfil; 
And deeper still, my soul perceives 
The mighty Presence that conceives 
     Such beauty at Its will. 

Radclyffe Hall (1880-1943)
from 'Twixt Earth and Stars, 1906

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

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Pastoral / Robert Hillyer

A Pastoral

The wise old apple tree in spring,
Though split and hollow, makes a crown
Of such fantastic blossoming
We cannot let them cut it down.
It bears no fruit, but honey bees
Prefer it to the other trees.

The orchard man chalks his mark
And says, “This empty shell must go.”
We nod and rub it off the bark
As soon as he goes down the row.
Each spring he looks bewildered. “Queer,
I thought I marked this thing last year.”

Ten orchard men have come and gone
Since first I saw my grandfather
Slyly erase it. I'm the one
To do it now. As I defer
The showy veteran's removal
My grandson nods his full approval.

Like mine, my fellow ancient's roots
Are deep in the last century
From which our memories send shoots
For all our grandchildren to see
How spring, inviting bloom and rhyme,
Defeats the orchard men of time.

Robert Hillyer (1895-1961)

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Robert Hillyer biography

Monday, May 18, 2015

No Man's Land / Gilbert Parker

No Man's Land

Oh, we have been a-maying, dear, beyond the city gates,
     The little city set upon a hill;
And we have seen the jocund smile upon the lips of Fate,
     And we have known the splendours of our will.

Ah, we have wandered far, my dear, and we have loved apace;
     A little hut we built upon the sand.
The sun without to lighten it, within, your golden face,—
     Oh, happy dream, Oh happy No Man's Land!

The pleasant furniture of spring was set in all the fields,
     And gay and wholesome were the herbs and flowers;
Our simple cloth of love was spread with all that nature yields,
     And frugal only were the passing hours.

Oh, we have been a-maying, dear, we've left the world behind,
     We've sung and danced and gossiped as we strayed;
And when within our little hut your fingers draw the blind,
     We'll loiter by the fire that love has made.

Gilbert Parker (1862-1932)
from Embers: A book of verses, 1908

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

Gilbert Parker biography

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Episode of a Night in May / Arthur Symons

from Scènes de la Vie de Bohème


Episode of a Night in May

The coloured lanterns lit the trees, the grass,
The little tables underneath the trees,
And the rays dappled like a delicate breeze
          Each wine-illumined glass.

The pink light flickered, and a shadow ran
Along the ground as couples came and went;
The waltzing fiddles sounded from the tent,
          And Giroflée began.

They sauntered arm in arm, these two; the smiles
Grew chilly, as the best spring evenings do.
The words were warmer, but the words came few,
          And pauses fell at whiles.

But she yawned prettily. "Come then," said he.
He found a chair, Veuve Clicquot, some cigars.
They emptied glasses and admired the stars,
          The lanterns, night, the sea,

Nature, the newest opera, the dog
(So clever) who could shoulder arms and dance;
He mentioned Alphonse Daudet's last romance,
          Last Sunday's river-fog,

Love, Immortality; the talk ran down
To these mere lees: they wearied each of each,
And tortured ennui into hollow speech,
          And yawned, to hide a frown.

She jarred his nerves; he bored her — and so soon.
Both were polite, and neither cared to say
The word that mars a perfect night of May.
          They watched the waning moon.

Arthur Symons (1865-1945)
from Days and Nights, 1889

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

Arthur Symons biography

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Blind / Harry Kemp


Cumberland Market, London

The Spring blew trumpets of color;
Her Green sang in my brain —
I heard a blind man groping
"Tap — tap" with his cane;

I pitied him in his blindness;
But can I boast, "I see"?
Perhaps there walks a spirit
Close by, who pities me, —

A spirit who hears me tapping
The five-sensed cane of mind
Amid such unguessed glories —
That I am worse than blind.

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

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

Harry Kemp biography

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sacrament / Louise Morey Bowman


To My Mother 

I cannot talk of her:
She's everywhere —
In the Spring trees' soft blooming,
In the air
That's filled with bird songs,
In a symphony,
Or golden throbbing of an organ prayer.
She's with me when I serve
Some hungry one with food.
She's with me when I'm dressed
In some gay, dainty frock for very best.
Whose colour puts me in a dancing mood.
When I write, read, or play my violin,
I hear her singing to me deep within.
She made a sacrament of life; and, hidden there,
She reaches out from God's eternity,
To touch all bread and wine
Of mine.

Louise Morey Bowman (1882-1944)
from Moonlight and Common Day, 1922

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

Louise Morey Bowman biography

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Spring in the Shops / Bert Leston Taylor

Spring in the Shops

In the manner of Ezra Pound 

Will people accept them? (i.e. these bargains)
O dainty colorings and range of prices!
Gowns of charmeuse in all the colors of the season;
Blouse suits of Russian cloth, tucked belt of softest satin,
And only $37.50.

Beautiful but inexpensive hats (values unprecedented).
Lovely French flowers combined
With handsome ribbon or numidi, roses, lilacs, wistaria, in beautiful colorings.

And petticoats, in crepe de chine and chiffon.
The petticoat oddly cut and gored,
That holds its fullness just below the knee,
And yet puffs out above,
Giving the new and fashionable outline.
Soft petticoats of sheerest voile, opened on side with clasps, in straight effect,
Silk jersey tucked and plaited ruffle, with underlay of same,
Special at $1.95.

Bert Leston Taylor (1866-1921)
from Motley Measures, 1913

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

Bert Leston Taylor biography

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The World Well Lost / Ethelwyn Wetherald

The World Well Lost

My one dark love shall fix the day,
     The solemn day when we shall wed;
Nor know I if on green or gray,
     On winter white or autumn red,

My happy bridal moon shall rise,
     Nor which of all the blossoming Mays
Shall wreathe the gates of Paradise
     Upon my dark love’s day of days.

But this I know:  her steps will be
     Like rose-leaves falling from the rose,
Her eyes a fathomless strange sea
     To which my stream of being flows.

And this I know:  her lips will rest
     As lightly on the drowsing lid
As leafy shadows on the breast
     Of some sweet grave all flower-hid.

In some sweet grave all flower-hid
     A thousand times the blooms of May
Shall visit us the leaves amid,
     When my love, Death, has named the day.

Ethelwyn Wetherald (1857-1940)
from The Last Robin, 1907

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

Ethelwyn Wetherald biography

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Any Woman / Hazel Hall

Any Woman

When there is nothing left but darkness
And the day is like a leaf
Fallen onto sodden grasses,
You have earned a subtle grief.

Never let them take it from you,
Never let them come and say:
Night is made of black gauze; moonlight
Blows the filmy dark away.

You have a right to know the thickness
Of the night upon your face,
To feel the inky blue of nothing
Drift like ashes out of space.

You have a right to lift your fingers
And stare in pity at your hands
That are the exquisite frail mirrors
Of all the mind misunderstands.

Your hand, potent in portrayal,
Falls of its own weight to rest
In a quiet curve of sorrow
On the beating of your breast.

Hazel Hall (1886-1924)
from Cry of Time, 1929

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

Hazel Hall biography

Friday, May 1, 2015

Penny's Top 20 / April 2015

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

  1.  Woodman, spare that tree!, George P. Morris
  2.  Away from Town, Harry Kemp
  3.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance
  4.  Sonnet (Violets), Alice Dunbar-Nelson
  5.  An Easter Song, Richard Le Gallienne
  6.  Song of a Second April, Edna St. Vincent Millay
Accompaniment, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
  8.  Lilies and Violets, Mary Gilmore

  9.  April Again, James Lewis Milligan

10.  As We Go On, Maxwell Struthers Burt

11.  April Aubade, Sylvia Plath
12.  Two Tramps in Mud Time, Robert Frost

13.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens 
14.  Winds of May, James Joyce
15.  Over the roofs the honey-coloured moon, Bliss Carman

16.  Olympian Ode 14, Pindar
17.  Vowels / Voyelles, Arthur Rimbaud
18.  Let No Charitable Hope, Elinor Wylie
19.  Tichborne's Elegy, Chidiock Tichborne
20.  From a Chinese Vase, Winnifred Welles

Source: Blogger, "Stats"