Saturday, April 30, 2016

April / Odell Shepard


(To Bliss Carman) 

There 's a murmur in the patient forest alleys,
There 's an elfin echo whispering through the trees,
Lonely pipes are lifted softly in the valleys . . .
All the air is filled with waking melodies.

From the crucibles of Erebus and Endor,
Flame of emerald has fallen by the rills,
And it flashes up the slope and sits in splendor
In the glory of the beauty of the hills.

Now my heart will yearn again to voice its wonder
And my song must sing again between the words
With a mutter of unutterable thunder
And a twitter of inimitable birds.

Odell Shepard (1884-1967), 1903 
From A Lonely Flute, 1917

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

Odell Shepard biography

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Month of April / Coplestone Warre Bampfylde

The Month of April

Come, April, month of various kinds,
With Summer's sun, and Winter's winds,
Whose varied clime, and lengthen'd day,
Blend flow'ry March with blooming May;
Capricious month! who oft can show
A violet in a bed of snow,
Mourning its wasted ill-plac'd charms,
Like beauteous youth in age's arms.

Come,— but preserve thy softer grace,
And wear thy younger spring-time face;
Such as, in mild Arcadian bowers,
The shepherds view thee crown'd with flowers;
When many a youthful swain is seen
Weaving gay chaplets on the green,
To deck the nymph, whose laughing eye,
In dalliance mocks his tender sigh;
Though pleas'd to see his constant flame,
Come Spring, come Winter, still the same.

But hide, oh! hide thy brow severe,
Stern remnant of past seasons drear!
The bleak east wind, the rattling hail,
That sweeping down th' affrighted dale,
Blight the young king-cups in their bed,
And bruise the early cowslip's head;
Whilst the young swallow's eager haste
Is check'd by many a wintry blast,
Who mourns the treach'rous smiles of Spring,
And, drooping, hangs her lifeless wing.

Alas, poor bird! thy source of woe
The giant sons of reason know;
Their brightest prospects as thy rise
Are clouded o'er like April skies:
And Hope, whose sweetly-tempting ray
First led them, on their vent'rous way,
Leaves them, dejected and forlorn,
To lose the rose, and grasp the thorn.
Fate's adverse storms that gather round,
Deforming all their fairest ground,
Prove the sad maxim but too true,
That they, alas! as well as you,
Trusting too far an April sun,
Droop, disappointed and undone.

Coplestone Warre Bampfylde (1720-1791)
from Poetical Amusements at a Villa near Bath, 1775

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Blue Squills / Sara Teasdale

Blue Squills

How many million Aprils came
     Before I ever knew
How white a cherry bough could be,
     A bed of squills, how blue!

And many a dancing April
     When life is done with me,
Will lift the blue flame of the flower
     And the white flame of the tree.

Oh, burn me with your beauty, then,
     Oh, hurt me, tree and flower,
Lest in the end death try to take
     Even this glistening hour.

O shaken flowers, O shimmering trees,
     O sunlit white and blue,
Wound me, that I through endless sleep
     May bear the scar of you.

Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)
from Flame and Shadow, 1920

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

Sara Teasdale biography

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Reawakening / Walter de la Mare

The Reawakening

Green in light are the hills, and a calm wind flowing
Filleth the void with a flood of the fragrance of spring.
Wings in this mansion of life are coming and going;
Voices of unseen loveliness carol and sing.

Colored with buds of delight the boughs are swaying;
Beauty walks in the woods, and wherever she rove
Flowers from wintry sleep, her enchantment obeying,
Stir in the deep of her dream, reawaken to love.

Oh, now begone sullen care!— this light is my seeing;
I am the Palace, and mine are its windows and walls;
Daybreak is come, and life from the darkness of being
Springs, like a child from the womb, when the lonely one calls.

Walter de la Mare (1873-1956)
from Motley, and other poems, 1918

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

Saturday, April 16, 2016

"Whan That Aprille . . ." / John Dos Passos

"Whan That Aprille. . ."

Is it the song of a meadow lark
Off the brown, sere salt marshes,
Or the eager patches in dooryards
Of yellow and pale lilac crocuses;
Or else the suburban street golden with sunlight,
And the bare branches of elm trees
Twined in the delicate sky?
Or is it the merry piping
Of a distant hurdy-gurdy?—
That makes me so weary and faint with desire
For strange lands and new scents;
For the rough-rhythmed clank
Of train couplings at night,
And the stormy, gay-tinted sunrises
That shade with purple the contours
Of far-off, unfamiliar hills.

John Dos Passos (1896-1970)
from Eight Harvard Poets, 1917

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

John Dos Passos biography

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Home Thoughts, from Abroad / Robert Browning

Home Thoughts, from Abroad 

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brush-wood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England — now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows —
Hark! where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops — at the bent spray's edge —
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower,
— Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

Robert Browning 
from Dramatic Romances and Lyrics, 1845 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Robert Browning biography

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The April Boughs / Theodosia Garrison

The April Boughs

It was not then her heart broke —
    That moment when she knew
That all her faith held holiest
    Was utterly untrue.

It was not then her heart broke —
    That night of prayer and tears
When first she dared the thought of life
    Through all the empty years.

But when beneath the April boughs
    She felt the blossoms stir,
The careless mirth of yesterday
    Came near and smiled at her.

Old singing lingered in the wind,
    Old joy came close again,
Oh, underneath the April boughs,
    I think her heart broke then.

Theodosia Garrison (1874-1944)
From The Dreamers, and other poems, 1917

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

Sunday, April 3, 2016

When I Am Old / Marjorie Allen Seiffert

When I Am Old

I still shall love the spring when I am old.
The whisper of April rain
Through grey-green days, upon my window-pane,
Shall speak as now of mornings bright and fine –
The days of gold,    
When sticky buds, bursting with leafy wonder,
Turn every one into a gay cockade,
Worn tilted up or tilted under
Those twisty April branches, bare of shade.

Though every April night is a green frame
For lovers, they but fit the old design
Earth never has outworn;
And without envy I shall say,
Nodding my head, “It used to be the same
In my own day!”

Marjorie Allen Seiffert (1885-1970)
from Poetry, April 1918

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

Marjorie Allen Seiffert biography

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A Distant Spring / Charles Hanson Towne

A Distant Spring

I who love the Spring so well
     Shall be sleeping, some glad day,
When her hosts come back to dwell
     In their old, familiar way.

I shall live, alas! no more
     In some distant April hour,
When the Spring flings wide her door,
     Calling leaf, and bloom, and flower.

I shall sleep but I shall dream
     In my home beneath the ground,
And my slumbering heart shall teem
     With its visions deep, profound.

I shall know, ere you will guess
     (Though with life I have no part),
What new golden loveliness
     Stirs within the old earth's heart.

I shall hear the first soft sound
     When the Spring is born anew,
And rejoice, beneath the ground,
     At the bliss to come to you.

Charles Hanson Towne (1877-1949)
from The Quiet Singer, and other poems, 1908

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

Charles Hanson Towne biography

Friday, April 1, 2016

Penny's Top 20 / March 2016

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

  1.  Little Things, Orrick Johns
  2.  Long May You Live, George J. Dance
  3.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens 
  4.  Easter Music, Margaret Deland
  5.  The March Thaw, Edwin Curran
  6.  The Snow-Blossoms, Clark Ashton Smith
  7.  A Prayer for Spring, Robert Frost

  8.  The Winter's Walk, Samuel Johnson

  9.  Coming Spring, Max Eastman

10.  In March, Archibald Lampman

11.  The Message of the March Wind, William Morris
Once Like a Light, AE Reiff
13.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance
14.  The Blue Heron, Theodore Goodrich Roberts
15.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy 

16.  Autumn, T.E. Hulme
17.  To the Earl of Dorset, Ambrose Bierce
18.  Improvisations on the Flute, Marjorie Pickthall
19.  PortraitHector de Saint-Denys Garneau 
20.  Episode of a Night in May, Arthur Symons

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