Sunday, May 29, 2016

Domesday / Robert Hillyer


The garlands and the songs of May
Shall welcome in the Judgment Day;
About the basking country-side
Blossom the souls of them that died.
O Dead awake! Arise in bloom
Upon the joyous dawn of doom.

They rise up from the bleeding earth
In gracious legions of re-birth,
Each as a flower or a tree
Of verdant immortality.
And hosts of glad-voiced angels sing
In the rippling groves of spring.

From the grave of youth there grows
A passionately-petaled rose,
Where the virgin whitely lies
A lily fair as Paradise.
And in that old oak's leafy glee
Some gouty sire makes sport of me.

O Dead of yore and yesterday
All hail the resurrecting May!
Beside you in the flowering grass
The feet of youth and love shall pass,
And we that greet you with a smile
Shall join you in a little while.

Robert Hillyer (1895-1961)
from Eight Harvard Poets, 1917

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

Saturday, May 28, 2016

"Girls and Boys Come Out to Play" / Eliza Cook

"Girls and Boys Come Out to Play"

                A Spring Carol

"Girls and boys come out to play,"
     And play as long as ye can
For the Lad and the Lass see greener grass
     Than grows for the Woman and Man.
The tuffets of golden palm are born;
The spice-wreath crowns the knotted thorn;
The lark and the leveret trample the corn;
     And the month is merrie, young May.
The moth is full drest, and the bee is about;
The lambs chase each other with scampering rout;
All Nature is crying, "Come out! Come out!
     Come out in the sun to play!"

"Girls and boys," come out in your glee,
     And leap in the glorious light;
Come, dance in the bloom-kissing wind, and be
     As fresh, and as free, and as bright.
The daisies have speckled the upland plain;
The rooks in the dark elms are cawing again;
The bluebell and cowslip are scenting the lane;
     The swallows are flying this way.
The brook ripples faster — all earth tells its joys
In one loud-swelling echo of jubilant noise,
Breathing forth the old chorus of "Girls and Boys
     Come out in the sun to play!"

" Girls and boys, come out to play;"
     And come with a right, good will;
Away to the thickening woods — away;
     Go, race on the breezy hill.
The blackbird is piping — go, rival his throat;
The cuckoo is talking — go, mimic his note;
There's the field for your bat, and the stream for your boat,
     'Neath the flash of the spring-tide ray.
The primrose is mingling its odorous breath
With the luscious, young violet, hiding beneath;
And the song of the mountain, the valley, and heath
     Is "Come out in the sun to play!"

Sweet season of promise, of Mirth, and Love!
     Oh! shed on our Wisdom and Age
A glimpse of the time when we carolled this rhyme,
     And the world was a fairy-tale page.
For blessed it is when the heart can bring
The memories back of Childhood's Spring;
When our Spirit went forth on butterfly wing
     And Life was one merrie, young May.
Oh! dear is the vision of Music and Flowers
That carries our Thoughts to the bygone hours,
And whispers again in Fancy's bowers,
     "Come out in the sun to play!"

Eliza Cook (1818-1889)
from The Poetical Works, 1870

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Eliza Cook biography

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Songster / Pauline Johnson

The Songster

Music, music with throb and swing,
    Of a plaintive note, and long;
’Tis a note no human throat could sing,
No harp with its dulcet golden string,—
Nor lute, nor lyre with liquid ring,
    Is sweet as the robin’s song.

He sings for love of the season
    When the days grow warm and long,
For the beautiful God-sent reason
    That his breast was born for song.

Calling, calling so fresh and clear,
    Through the song-sweet days of May;
Warbling there, and whistling here,
He swells his voice on the drinking ear,
On the great, wide, pulsing atmosphere
    Till his music drowns the day.

He sings for love of the season
    When the days grow warm and long,
For the beautiful God-sent reason
    That his breast was born for song.

Pauline Johnson (1861-1913)
From Canadian Born, 1903

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Pauline Johnson biography

Saturday, May 21, 2016

To the Spring / John Davies

To the Spring

Earth now is green, and heaven is blue,
Lively Spring which makes all new,
Iolly Spring, doth enter;
Sweet young sun-beams do subdue
Angry, agèd Winter.      

Blasts are mild, and seas are calm,
Every meadow flows with balm,
The Earth wears all her riches;
Harmonious birds sing such a psalm,
As ear and heart bewitches.      

Reserve (sweet Spring) this Nymph of ours,
Eternal garlands of thy flowers,
Green garlands never wasting:
In her shall last our state’s fair Spring,
Now and for ever flourishing,      
As long as Heaven is lasting.

Sir John Davies (1570-1626)
from Hymnes of Astraea; in acrostick verse, 1599

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Davies biography

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Mid-May / Charles R. Murphy


Put aside your words, and there are left
Stones of the grey walls and apple-trees;
And in the flesh and mind, and in what seems
Birthing almost of an immortal soul,
Virginity and fortitude and hope —  
Delicate as blossoms on the gnarled limbs
White, grey and green above the risen grass.

Charles R. Murphy (1884-1936)
from Poetry, August 1921

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

Charles R. Murphy biography

Saturday, May 14, 2016

In May / W.H. Davies

In May

Yes, I will spend the livelong day
With Nature in this month of May;
And sit beneath the trees, and share
My bread with birds whose homes are there;
While cows lie down to eat, and sheep
Stand to their necks in grass so deep;
While birds do sing with all their might,
As though they felt the earth in flight.
This is the hour I dreamed of, when
I sat surrounded by poor men;
And thought of how the Arab sat
Alone at evening, gazing at
The stars that bubbled in clear skies;
And of young dreamers, when their eyes
Enjoyed methought a precious boon
In the adventures of the Moon
Whose light, behind the Clouds' dark bars,
Searched for her stolen flocks of stars.
When I, hemmed in by wrecks of men,
Thought of some lonely cottage then,
Full of sweet books ; and miles of sea,
With passing ships, in front of me ;
And having, on the other hand,
A flowery, green, bird-singing land.

W.H. Davies (1871-1940)
from Songs of Joy, and others, 1911 

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

W.H. Davies biography

Sunday, May 8, 2016

What is the world trying to say? / H.C. Beeching

In a Garden


     What is the world trying to say?
     Why is the light so tender and grey —
     Why are the tremulous leaves a-sway
     On the trees new fledge with the faintest green?
Nay, he were wise who could say what these things mean,
               and tell the secret of May.

     What is my heart trying to say?
     Why does it tremble and hurry and stay
     At the sight of a leaf on a sunny day,
     Of a leaf tho' never so delicate-green?
Nay, he were wise who could say what these things mean,
               and tell the secret of May.

Henry Charles Beeching (1859-1919)
from In a Garden, and other poems, 1895

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Henry Charles Beeching biography

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Enthusiast: An ode / William Whitehead

The Enthusiast: An ode

Once, I remember well the day,
’Twas ere the blooming sweets of May
      Had lost their freshest hues,
When every flower on every hill,
In every vale, had drunk its fill
      Of sunshine and of dews.

’Twas that sweet season’s loveliest prime
When Spring gives up the reins of time
      To Summer’s glowing hand,
And doubting mortals hardly know  
By whose command the breezes blow
      Which fan the smiling land.

’Twas then beside a green-wood shade
Which cloth’d a lawn’s aspiring head
       I urg’d my devious way,  
With loitering steps, regardless where,
So soft, so genial was the air,
       So wond’rous bright the day.

And now my eyes with transport rove
O’er all the blue expansive grove,
       Unbroken by a cloud!
And now beneath delighted pass,
Where, winding through the deep-green grass,
       A full-brimm’d river flow’d.

I stop, I gaze; in accents rude
To thee, serenest Solitude,
       Burst forth th’ unbidden lay:
Begone, vile world; the learn’d, the wise,
The great, the busy, I despise,
       And pity e’en the gay.      

These, these are joys alone, I cry,
’Tis here, divine Philosophy,
       Thou deign’st to fix thy throne!
Here, contemplation points the road
Thro’ Nature’s charms to Nature’s God!
       These, these, are joys alone!

Adieu, ye vain, low-thoughted cares,
Ye human hopes, and human fears,
       Ye pleasures, and ye pains!—
While thus I spake, o’er all the soul
A philosophic calmness stole,
       A Stoic stillness reigns.

The tyrant passions all subside,
Fear, anger, pity, shame, and pride,
       No more my bosom move.      
Yet still I felt, or seem’d to feel
A kind of visionary zeal
      Of universal love.

When lo! a voice! a voice I hear!
’Twas Reason whisper’d in my ear
      These monitory strains:
What mean’st thou, man? would’st thou unbind
The ties which constitute thy kind,
      The pleasures and the pains?

The same Almighty Power unseen,      
Who spreads the gay or solemn scene
      To Contemplation’s eye:
Fix’d every movement of the soul,
Taught every wish its destined goal,
      And quicken’d every joy.      

He bids the tyrant passions rage,
He bids them war eternal wage,
      And combat each his foe:
Till from dissensions concord rise,
And beauties from deformities,      
      And happiness from woe.

Art thou not man? and dar’st thou find
A bliss which leans not to mankind?
      Presumptuous thought and vein!
Each bliss unshar’d is unenjoy’d,  
Each power is weak, unless employ’d
      Some social good to gain.

Some light, and shade, and warmth, and air,
With those exalted joys compare
      Which active virtue feels.    
When on she drags, as lawful prize,
Contempt, and Indolence, and Vice,
      At her triumphant wheels.

As rest to labour still succeeds,
To man, while Virtue’s glorious deeds  
      Employ his toilsome day,
This fair variety of things
Are merely life’s refreshing springs
      To soothe him on his way.

Enthusiast, go, unstring the lyre;  
In vain thou sing’st if none admire,
      How sweet soe’er the strain;
And is not thy o’erflowing mind,
Unless thou mixest with thy kind,
      Benevolent in vain?      

Enthusiast, go, try every sense;
If not thy bliss, thy excellence
     Thou yet hast learn’d to scan;
At least thy wants, thy weakness know,
And see them all uniting show,  
     That man was made for man.

William Whitehead (1715-1785)

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

William Whitehead biography

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May and Death / Robert Browning

May and Death

I wish that when you died last May,
    Charles, there had died along with you
Three parts of spring's delightful things;
    Ay, and, for me, the fourth part too.

A foolish thought, and worse, perhaps!
    There must be many a pair of friends
Who, arm in arm, deserve the warm
    Moon-births and the long evening-ends.

So, for their sakes, be May still May!
    Let their new time, as mine of old,
Do all it did for me: I bid
    Sweet sights and sounds throng manifold.

Only, one little sight, one plant,
    Woods have in May, that starts up green
Save a sole streak which, so to speak.
    Is spring's blood, spilt its leaves between,—

That, they might spare; a certain wood
    Might miss the plant; their loss were small:
But I,— whene'er the leaf grows there,
    Its drop comes from my heart, that's all.

Robert Browning (1812-1889), 1857
from Dramatis Personae,  1864

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Penny's Top 20 / April 2016

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

  1.  shanghai, David Rutkowski
  2.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens 
  3.  Long May You Live, George J. Dance
  4.  When I Am Old, Marjorie Allen Seiffert
  5.  The April Boughs, Theodosia Garrison
  6.  A Distant Spring, Charles Hanson Towne
If I should learn, Edna St. Vincent Millay
  8.  Blue Squills, Sara Teasdale

  9.  Home Thoughts from Abroad, Robert Browning

10.  The Month of April, Coplestone Warre Bampfylde

11.  The Reawakening, Walter de la Mare
She Walks in Beauty, Lord Byron
13.  Mortality, Gerald Gould
14.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance
15.  "Whan That Aprille'...", John Dos Passos

16.  Sagacity, William Rose Benet
17.  Autumn Music, George J. Dance
18.  A Vagabond Song, Bliss Carman
19.  High Flight, John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
20.  Ganesha Girl on Rankin, Will Dockery

Source: Blogger, "Stats"