Monday, October 31, 2016

Hallowe'en in a Suburb / H.P. Lovecraft


Hallowe’en in a Suburb

The steeples are white in the wild moonlight,
     And the trees have a silver glare;
Past the chimneys high see the vampires fly,
     And the harpies of upper air,
     That flutter and laugh and stare.

For the village dead to the moon outspread
     Never shone in the sunset’s gleam,
But grew out of the deep that the dead years keep
     Where the rivers of madness stream
     Down the gulfs to a pit of dream.

A chill wind weaves thro’ the rows of sheaves
     In the meadows that shimmer pale,
And comes to twine where the headstones shine
     And the ghouls of the churchyard wail
     For harvests that fly and fail.

Not a breath of the strange grey gods of change
     That tore from the past its own
Can quicken this hour, when a spectral pow’r
     Spreads sleep o’er the cosmic throne
     And looses the vast unknown.

So here again stretch the vale and plain
     That moons long-forgotten saw,
And the dead leap gay in the pallid ray,
     Sprung out of the tomb’s black maw
     To shake all the world with awe.

And all that the morn shall greet forlorn,
     The ugliness and the pest
Of rows where thick rise the stones and brick,
     Shall some day be with the rest,
     And brood with the shades unblest.

Then wild in the dark let the lemurs bark,
     And the leprous spires ascend;
For new and old alike in the fold
     Of horror and death are penn’d,
     For the hounds of Time to rend.

~~
H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937)
from The National Amateur, March 1926
(as "In a Suburb")

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

H.P. Lovecraft bibliography

Sunday, October 30, 2016

October / Mary Weston Fordham


October

Bright and beautiful art thou,
Autumn flowers crown thy brow,
Golden-rod and Aster blue,
Russet leaf with crimson hue,
Half stripped branches waving by,
Softly as a lullaby,
Tell of summer's days gone by,
Tell that winter's very nigh.

In the forest cool and chill,
Sadly moans the Whippoorwill,
Not as in the summer days,
When he gloried in his lays,
Lower-toned, but sweet and clear,
Like thy crisp and fragrant air,
Warbling forth with voice sublime,
This is nature's harvest time.

Crickets chirp amid the leaves,
Squirrels hop among the trees,
Brown nuts falling thick and fast,
On the dewy, dying grass,
Glowing sun with softer rays,
Harbinger of wintry days,
Tell the year is going by,
Sighing forth its lullaby.

~~
Mary Weston Fordham (1843-1905)
from Magnolia Leaves, 1897

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Mary Weston Fordham biography

Saturday, October 29, 2016

October / Paul Laurence Dunbar


October

October is the treasurer of the year,
And all the months pay bounty to her store;
The fields and orchards still their tribute bear,
And fill her brimming coffers more and more.
But she, with youthful lavishness,
Spends all her wealth in gaudy dress,
And decks herself in garments bold
Of scarlet, purple, red, and gold.

She heedeth not how swift the hours fly,
But smiles and sings her happy life along;
She only sees above a shining sky;
She only hears the breezes' voice in song.
Her garments trail the woodlands through,
And gather pearls of early dew
That sparkle, till the roguish Sun
Creeps up and steals them every one.

But what cares she that jewels should be lost,
When all of Nature's bounteous wealth is hers?
Though princely fortunes may have been their cost,
Not one regret her calm demeanor stirs.
Whole-hearted, happy, careless, free,
She lives her life out joyously,
Nor cares when Frost stalks o'er her way
And turns her auburn locks to gray.

~~
Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
from Oak and Ivy, 1893

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Paul Laurence Dunbar biography

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Besides the Autumn poets sing / Emily Dickinson


Besides the Autumn poets sing,
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the Haze –

A few incisive mornings –      
A few Ascetic eves –
Gone – Mr Bryant’s “Golden Rod” –
And Mr Thomson’s “sheaves.”

Still, is the bustle in the brook –
Sealed are the spicy valves –
Mesmeric fingers softly touch
The eyes of many Elves –

Perhaps a squirrel may remain –
My sentiments to share –
Grant me, Oh Lord, a sunny mind –      
Thy windy will to bear!

~~
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), 1859

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Emily Dickinson biography

Saturday, October 22, 2016

October / William Cullen Bryant


October

Ay, thou art welcome, heaven's delicious breath,
    When woods begin to wear the crimson leaf,
    And suns grow meek, and the meek suns grow brief,
And the year smiles as it draws near its death.
Wind of the sunny south! oh still delay
    In the gay woods and in the golden air,
    Like to a good old age released from care,
Journeying, in long serenity, away.
In such a bright, late quiet, would that I
    Might wear out life like thee, mid bowers and brooks,
    And, dearer yet, the sunshine of kind looks,
And music of kind voices ever nigh;
And when my last sand twinkled in the glass,
Pass silently from men, as thou dost pass.

~~
William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)
from Poems, 1836

[Poem is in the public domain world-wide]

William Cullen Bryant biography

Sunday, October 16, 2016

October: "The old eyes" / H.L. Davis


October: "The old eyes"

In these cold mornings the alders can not hold their leaves,
But in the stained pond-water drop them, broad and cold.
Days ago the willows yellowed the river’s edge.
The river-breaks are stuck full of gray wild seed.
Dry and without the late hunger is every weed.      

The latest-bearing tree’s fruit is under roof;
Nothing we value is left, nothing is left
Except the garden Eusebia planted as she grew old.
Under the trees of her orchard the tall marigolds,
Past their best, are grown dark yellow with rain:      
Half-wild stalks, that gave this woman much pride and much pain
To thin and keep in order.
                    It has rained, and turned cold.
No one comes along the river or the breaks;
No foot has changed the color of this tall grass.
About her house, big rose-hips ripen, partly gray.      
Who sits in the leaves there—the old eyes, and the flesh fallen?
Eusebia Owen is come again, this chilly day:
A ghost comes, and grieves at last because she is old.

The water of dead leaves, which the fruit trees
Shed upon her dress, is not cold; there’s no fear now, though      
Hard waves in the river gather and pace to the wind;
There’s no pleasure in marigold petals upon her face.
She grieves, and says: “So many years I let go,
Working hard, and was content to think that love
Would surely return; but the dead go all alone.”      

It is so: the years during which this woman lived
Were divided—so many for love, so many following
For work; and at last, let them be busy with flowers.
Dusty summers, long harvests, awhile to rest; but in the cold days
Eusebia gathered tree-cotton to weave cloth upon,      
Worked with her garden, and would not fold her hands.
This woman was not idle until she died.
There’s tree-cotton, and cold days another year
In which all her use is departed. This sad ghost
That cries for love again, even the spirit is old.      
The hair which hangs against the dry breast is gray.
The old dark dress is worn thin; and, wet and cold,
She who wears it would enjoy love again, would lie
In childbed over again.
                    When I was her friend
I thought she had been content: and see the gray hair      
Heavy and stained with water! Once she was vain,
And now leaves stick upon her dress and her arms.
Now she has left secrecy, and I am ashamed
That we were less friends than ever I had dreamed.

 ~~
H.L. Davis (1894-1960)
from Poetry, June 1920

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

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Dirge in Woods / George Meredith


Dirge in Woods

A wind sways the pines,
         And below
Not a breath of wild air;
Still as the mosses that glow
On the flooring and over the lines
Of the roots here and there.
The pine-tree drops its dead;
They are quiet, as under the sea.
Overhead, overhead
Rushes life in a race,
As the clouds the clouds chase;
         And we go,
And we drop like the fruits of the tree,
         Even we,
         Even so.

~~
George Meredith (1828-1909)
from Ballads and Poems of Tragic Life, 1887

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Especially when the October wind / Dylan Thomas


Especially when the October wind

Especially when the October wind
With frosty fingers punishes my hair,
Caught by the crabbing sun I walk on fire
And cast a shadow crab upon the land,
By the sea's side, hearing the noise of birds,
Hearing the raven cough in winter sticks,
My busy heart who shudders as she talks
Sheds the syllabic blood and drains her words.

Shut, too, in a tower of words, I mark
On the horizon walking like the trees
The wordy shapes of women, and the rows
Of the star-gestured children in the park.
Some let me make you of the vowelled beeches,
Some of the oaken voices, from the roots
Of many a thorny shire tell you notes,
Some let me make you of the water's speeches.

Behind a pot of ferns the wagging clock
Tells me the hour's word, the neural meaning
Flies on the shafted disk, declaims the morning
And tells the windy weather in the cock.
Some let me make you of the meadow's signs;
The signal grass that tells me all I know
Breaks with the wormy winter through the eye.
Some let me tell you of the raven's sins.

Especially when the October wind
(Some let me make you of autumnal spells,
The spider-tongued, and the loud hill of Wales)
With fists of turnips punishes the land,
Some let me make you of the heartless words.
The heart is drained that, spelling in the scurry
Of chemic blood, warned of the coming fury.
By the sea's side hear the dark-vowelled birds.

~~
Dylan Thomas (1914-1954)
from Eighteen Poems, 1934

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Dylan Thomas biography

Saturday, October 8, 2016

An October Garden / Christina Rossetti


An October Garden

In my Autumn garden I was fain
To mourn among my scattered roses;
Alas for that last rosebud which uncloses
To Autumn’s languid sun and rain
When all the world is on the wane!
Which has not felt the sweet constraint of June,
Nor heard the nightingale in tune.

Broad-faced asters by my garden walk,
You are but coarse compared with roses:
More choice, more dear that rosebud which uncloses
Faint-scented, pinched, upon its stalk,
That least and last which cold winds balk;
A rose it is though least and last of all,
A rose to me though at the fall.

~~
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
from Poetical Works, 1904

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Christina Rossetti biography

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Penny's Top 20 / September 2016


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

  1.  A Song to Mithras, Rudyard Kipling
  2.  Gethsemane, Rudyard Kipling
  3.  Puck's Song, Rudyard Kipling
  4.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
  5.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  6.  Manhattan, Lola Ridge
  7.  Day Turns Night, James D. Senetto
  8.  The Names, Billy Collins

  9.  The City Revisited, Stephen Vincent Benet

10.  Autumn Twilight, Arthur Symons

11.  Indian Summer, Archibald Lampman
12.  Hymn to the Month of September, John Davies

13.  September, Hilaire Belloc
14.  In September, Amy Levy
15.  
Long May You Live, George J. Dance
16.  The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens
17.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance
18.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
19.  Once Like a Light, AE Reiff
20.  August Night on Georgian Bay, William Wilfred Campbell

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock /
T.S. Eliot


The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma percioche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question ...
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
               So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
               And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
               And should I then presume?
               And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? ...

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep ... tired ... or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head
               Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
               That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
               “That is not it at all,
               That is not what I meant, at all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old ... I grow old ...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

~~
T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
from Prufrock, and other observations, 1917

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

T.S. Eliot biography

Saturday, October 1, 2016

After Apple-Picking / Robert Frost


After Apple-Picking

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

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

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