Monday, March 28, 2016

In March / Archibald Lampman

In March

The sun falls warm: the southern winds awake:
The air seethes upward with a steamy shiver:
Each dip of the road is now a crystal lake,
And every rut a little dancing river.
Through great soft clouds that sunder overhead  
The deep sky breaks as pearly blue as summer:
Out of a cleft beside the river’s bed
Flaps the black crow, the first demure newcomer.
The last seared drifts are eating fast away
With glassy tinkle into glittering laces:        
Dogs lie asleep, and little children play
With tops and marbles in the sunbare places;
And I that stroll with many a thoughtful pause
Almost forget that winter ever was.

Archibald Lampman (1861-1899)
from Alcyone, 1899

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Message of the March Wind / William Morris

The Message of the March Wind

Fair now is the spring-tide, now earth lies beholding
With the eyes of a lover, the face of the sun;
Long lasteth the daylight, and hope is enfolding
The green-growing acres with increase begun.

Now sweet, sweet it is thro’ the land to be straying,
’Mid the birds and the blossoms and the beasts of the field;
Love mingles with love, and no evil is weighing
On thy heart or mine, where all sorrow is heal'd.

From township to township, o’er down and by tillage,
Far, far have we wander’d and long was the day;      
But now cometh eve at the end of the village,
Where over the grey wall the church riseth grey.

There is wind in the twilight; in the white road before us
The straw from the ox-yard is blowing about;
The moon’s rim is rising, a star glitters o’er us,  
And the vane on the spire-top is swinging in doubt.

Down there dips the highway, toward the bridge crossing over
The brook that runs on to the Thames and the sea.
Draw closer, my sweet, we are lover and lover;
This eve art thou given to gladness and me.      

Shall we be glad always? Come closer and hearken:
Three fields further on, as they told me down there,
When the young moon has set, if the March sky should darken,
We might see from the hill-top the great city’s glare.

Hark, the wind in the elm-boughs! from London it bloweth,
And telleth of gold, and of hope and unrest;
Of power that helps not; of wisdom that knoweth,
But teacheth not aught of the worst and the best.

Of the rich men it telleth, and strange is the story
How they have and they hanker, and grip far and wide;
And they live and they die, and the earth and its glory
Has been but a burden they scarce might abide.

Hark! the March wind again of a people is telling;
Of the life that they live there, so haggard and grim,
That if we and our love amidst them had been dwelling,
My fondness had falter’d, thy beauty grown dim.

This land we have loved in our love and our leisure,
For them hangs in heaven, high out of their reach;
The wide hills o’er the sea-plain for them have no pleasure,
The grey homes of their fathers no story to teach.      

The singers have sung and the builders have builded,
The painters have fashioned their tales of delight;
For what and for whom hath the world’s book been gilded,
When all is for these but the blackness of night?

How long, and for what is their patience abiding?      
How long and how oft shall their story be told,
While the hope that none seeketh in darkness is hiding,
And in grief and in sorrow the world groweth old?

Come back to the inn, love, and the lights and the fire,
And the fiddler’s old tune and the shuffling of feet;      
For there in a while shall be rest and desire,
And there shall the morrow’s uprising be sweet.

Yet, love, as we wend, the wind bloweth behind us,
And beareth the last tale it telleth to-night,
How here in the spring-tide the message shall find us;      
For the hope that none seeketh is coming to light.

Like the seed of midwinter, unheeded, unperish’d,
Like the autumn-sown wheat ’neath the snow lying green,
Like the love that o’ertook us, unawares and uncherish’d,
Like the babe ’neath thy girdle that groweth unseen;      

So the hope of the people now buddeth and groweth,
Rest fadeth before it, and blindness and fear;
It biddeth us learn all the wisdom it knoweth;
It hath found us and held us, and biddeth us hear:

For it beareth the message: ‘Rise up on the morrow,      
And go on thy ways toward the doubt and the strife;
Join hope to our hope and blend sorrow with sorrow,
And seek for men’s love in the short days of life.’

But lo, the old inn, and the lights, and the fire,
And the fiddler’s old tune and the shuffling of feet;      
Soon for us shall be quiet and rest and desire,
And to-morrow’s uprising to deeds shall be sweet.

William Morris (1834-1896)
from The Pilgrims of Hope, 1915

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

William Morris biography

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Little Things / Orrick Johns

Little Things

There's nothing very beautiful and nothing very gay
About the rush of faces in the town by day,
But a light tan cow in a pale green mead,
That is very beautiful, beautiful indeed . . .
And the soft March wind, and the low March mist
Are better than kisses in the dark street kissed . . .
The fragrance of the forest when it wakes at dawn,
The fragrance of a trim green village lawn,
The hearing of the murmur of the rain at play –
These things are beautiful, beautiful as day!
And I shan’t stand waiting for love or scorn
When the feast is laid for a day new-born . . .
Oh, better let the little things I loved when little
Return when the heart finds the great things brittle;
And better is a temple made of bark and thong
Than a tall stone temple that may stand too long.

Orrick Johns (1887-1946)
from Asphalt, and other poems, 1917

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

Orrick Johns biography

Friday, March 25, 2016

Easter Music / Margaret Deland (3 poems)

Easter Music


Blow, golden trumpets, sweet and clear,
Blow soft upon the perfumed air;
     Bid the sad earth to join your song,
     "To Christ does victory belong!"

Oh, let the winds your message bear
To every heart of grief and care;
     Sound through the world the joyful lay,
     "Our Christ has conquered Death to-day /"

On cloudy wings let glad words fly
Through the soft blue of echoing sky :
     Ring out, O trumpets, sweet and clear,
     "Through Death immortal Life is here!"

To the Child of the Sistine Madonna

Through all the mists of years,
     One smiling baby face
Forever young appears,
     Aglow with childish grace!

O questioning sweet eyes,
     O head all golden brown,
Above thee softly lies
     The shadow of a crown!

The Message of the Lilies 

O quickening life of Easter day,
     O burst of snowy bloom :
"The Lord has risen," Lilies say,
     In gush of sweet perfume!

"Oh, lift your heads and face the sky,
     Oh, watch the brightening dawn;
For Light, and Life, and Hope are nigh,
     And Death's dark night has gone!

"Up! up! to the soft shining blue,
     The freshening wind and sun;
All Nature thrills, all life is new,
     Christ's victory is won!"

Margaret Deland (1857-1945)
from The Old Garden, and other verses, 1889

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

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Prayer for Spring / Robert Frost

A Prayer for Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,      
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,      
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)
from A Boy's Will, 1916

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

Robert Frost biography

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Coming Spring / Max Eastman

Coming Spring

Ice is marching down the river,
Gaily out to sea!
Sunbeams o'er the snow-hills quiver,
Setting torrents free!

Yellow are the water-willows,
Yellow clouds are they,
Rising where the laden billows
Swell along their way!

Arrows of the sun are flying!
Winter flees the light,
And his chilly horn is sighing
All the moisty night!

Lovers of the balmy weather,
Lovers of the sun!
Drifts and duty melt together--
Get your labors done!

Ice is marching down the river,
Gaily out to sea!
Sing the healthy-hearted ever,
Spring is liberty!

Max Eastman (1883-1969)
from Child of the Amazons, and other poems, 1913

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

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The March Thaw / Edwin Curran

The March Thaw

On — turgid, bellowing — tramp the freshet rills,
  Heaped up with yellow wine, the winter’s brew.
Out-thrown, they choke and tumble from the hills,
  And lash their tawny bodies, whipping through.
With flattened bells comes scudding purple rain;      
  The cold sky breaks and drenches out the snow.
    Far from the perfect circle of the sky
  The heavy winds lick off the boughs they blow;
And fields are cleansed for plows to slice again,
    For April shall laugh downward by and by.      

With purifying blasts the wind stalks out
  And sweeps the carrion of winter on;
It prods the dank mists, stamps with jest about,
  And sows the first blooms on the greening lawn.
Far up the planks of sky the winter’s dross      
  Goes driven to the north; her rank smells wave
    In unseen humors to the icy pole.
  The charwomen of the sky, with brushes, lave
And wash the fields for green, and rocks for moss,
    And busily polish up the earth’s dull soul.

Edwin Curran (born 1892)
from Poems, 1919

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

Edwin Curran biography

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Snow-Blossoms / Clark Ashton Smith

The Snow-Blossoms

But yestereve the winter trees
Reared leafless, blackly bare,
Their twigs and branches poignant-marked
Upon the sunset-flare.

White-petaled, opens now the dawn,
And in its pallid glow,
Revealed, each leaf-lorn, barren tree
Stands white with flowers of snow.

Clark Ashton Smith
from The Star-Treader, and other poems, 1912

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

Clark Ashton Smith biography

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Winter's Walk / Samuel Johnson

The Winter's Walk

Behold my fair where-e'er we rove,
What dreary prospects round us rise,
The naked hill, the leafless grove,
The hoary ground, the frowning skies.

Nor only through the wasted plain,
Stern Winter is thy force confest,
Still wider spreads thy horrid reign,
I feel thy power usurp my breast.

Enlivening hope, and fond desire,
Resign the heart to spleen and care,
Scarce frighted love maintains his fire,
And rapture saddens to despair.

In groundless hope, and causeless fear,
Unhappy man! behold thy doom,
Still changing with the changeful year
The slave of sunshine and of gloom.

Tir'd with vain joys, and false alarms,
With mental and corporeal strife,
Snatch me, my Stella, to thy arms,
And screen me from the ills of life.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
from The Gentleman's Magazine, May 1747

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Samuel Johnson biography

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Penny's Top 20 / February 2016

Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in February 2016:

  1.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens 
  2.  Long May You Live, George J. Dance
  3.  Snow, John Davidson
  4.  February, Sally Bruce Kinsolving
  5.  One day I wrote her name upon the strand, Edmund Spenser
  6.  To the Earl of Dorset, Ambrose Philips
  7.  Premonition, Louise Driscoll

  8.  The Frozen Thames, John Gay

  9.  Portrait, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau

10.  Bird Cage
 Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau 

11.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance
Once Like a Light, AE Reiff
13.  Autumn, T.E. Hulme
14.  Winter Evening, Archibald Lampman
15.  Summer Song, William Carlos Williams

16.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
17.  SpleenHector de Saint-Denys Garneau
18.  Under the Snow, James Lewis Milligan
19.  Red Lipped Stranger, Will Dockery
20.  Winter Dusk, Karle Wilson Baker

Source: Blogger, "Stats"