Sunday, November 27, 2016

November / Alexander Louis Fraser


Each sapless leaf that lingers here
    Where bare woods mourn
Shall soon upon Wind’s silvery bier
    Be gravewards borne.

The bees have left our honey-bowers,   
    The birds are fled;
And ’neath the blight of frost our flowers
    Have fallen — dead!

Yon meadow now, where grass grew green,
    No grazing yields:     
No bells are heard, no flocks are seen
    In far, fenced fields.

Where children played till all the ground
    Was wet with dew,
Autumn, to-day, with threatening sound   
    Snow trumpets blew.

Fear not November’s challenge bold —
    We’ve books and friends;
And hearths that never can grow cold:
    These make amends!

Alexander Louis Fraser (1870-1954)
from the Oxford Book of Canadian Verse, 1913

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

Alexander Louis Fraser biography

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Autumn / Florence Earle Coates


In her arms unconscious lying,
Cytherea's love is dying.
On the hill and in the valley,
Through the grove and sun-lit alley,
Drooping flower and fading leaf
     Share her grief.
But in realms of gloom and night
Proserpine enwreathes her hair,
And a gleam of tender light
Seems to pierce the darkness there:
"Ah!" she sighs, "I long have waited
With the calm of hopeless pain,
But to me, the sorrow-fated,
Comes the lost one back again!
Lovely things that seem to die
Hither now will quickly hie,
And to-morrow, in the gloom
Of this sad and sunless tomb,
Butterflies will lightly hover,
As o'er meadows fair;" she saith,
"For Adonis brings the clover
     With his breath!"

Florence Earle Coates (1850-1927)
From Mine and Thine, 1904

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

Florence Earle Coates biography

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Red o'er the forest peers the setting sun / John Keble

Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity

Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things onto Himself.  Philippians iii. 21.

Red o’er the forest peers the setting sun,
   The line of yellow light dies fast away
That crowned the eastern copse: and chill and dun
   Falls on the moor the brief November day.

Now the tired hunter winds a parting note,
   And Echo bids good-night from every glade;
Yet wait awhile, and see the calm leaves float
   Each to his rest beneath their parent shade.

How like decaying life they seem to glide!
   And yet no second spring have they in store,
But where they fall, forgotten to abide
   Is all their portion, and they ask no more.

Soon o’er their heads blithe April airs shall sing,
   A thousand wild-flowers round them shall unfold,
The green buds glisten in the dews of Spring,
   And all be vernal rapture as of old.

Unconscious they in waste oblivion lie,
   In all the world of busy life around
No thought of them; in all the bounteous sky,
   No drop, for them, of kindly influence found.

Man’s portion is to die and rise again —
   Yet he complains, while these unmurmuring part
With their sweet lives, as pure from sin and stain,
   As his when Eden held his virgin heart.

And haply half unblamed his murmuring voice
   Might sound in Heaven, were all his second life
Only the first renewed — the heathen’s choice,
   A round of listless joy and weary strife.

For dreary were this earth, if earth were all,
   Tho’ brightened oft by dear Affection’s kiss;—
Who for the spangles wears the funeral pall?
   But catch a gleam beyond it, and ’tis bliss.

Heavy and dull this frame of limbs and heart,
   Whether slow creeping on cold earth, or borne
On lofty steed, or loftier prow, we dart
   O’er wave or field: yet breezes laugh to scorn

Our puny speed, and birds, and clouds in heaven,
   And fish, living shafts that pierce the main,
And stars that shoot through freezing air at even —
   Who but would follow, might he break his chain?

And thou shalt break it soon; the grovelling worm
   Shall find his wings, and soar as fast and free
As his transfigured Lord with lightning form
   And snowy vest — such grace He won for thee,

When from the grave He sprang at dawn of morn,
   And led through boundless air thy conquering road,
Leaving a glorious track, where saints, new-born,
   Might fearless follow to their blest abode.

But first, by many a stern and fiery blast
   The world’s rude furnace must thy blood refine,
And many a gale of keenest woe be passed,
   Till every pulse beat true to airs divine,

Till every limb obey the mounting soul,
   The mounting soul, the call by Jesus given.
He who the stormy heart can so control,
   The laggard body soon will waft to Heaven.

John Keble (1792-1866)
from The Christian Year, 1827

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Keble biography

Saturday, November 19, 2016

November / Robert Frost


We saw leaves go to glory,
Then almost migratory
Go part way down the lane,
And then to end the story
Get beaten down and pasted
In one wild day of rain.
We heard ‘ ‘Tis over’ roaring.
A year of leaves was wasted.
Oh, we make a boast of storing,
Of saving and of keeping,
But only by ignoring
The waste of moments sleeping,
The waste of pleasure weeping,
By denying and ignoring
The waste of nations warring.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)
from A Witness Tree, 1942

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Robert Frost biography

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Drum / John Scott of Amwell


I hate that drum’s discordant sound,
Parading round, and round, and round:
To thoughtless youth it pleasure yields,
And lures from cities and from fields,
To sell their liberty for charms
Of tawdry lace, and glittering arms;
And when Ambition’s voice commands,
To march, and fight, and fall, in foreign lands.

I hate that drum’s discordant sound,
Parading round, and round, and round:
To me it talks of ravag’d plains,
And burning towns, and ruin’d swains,
And mangled limbs, and dying groans,
And widows' tears, and orphans' moans;
And all that misery’s hand bestows,
To fill the catalogue of human woes.

John Scott of Amwell
from Poetical Works, 1782

[Poem is in the public domain world-wide]

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Bombardment / Richard Aldington


Four days the earth was rent and torn
By bursting steel,
The houses fell about us;
Three nights we dared not sleep,
Sweating, and listening for the imminent crash
Which meant our death.

The fourth night every man,
Nerve-tortured, racked to exhaustion,
Slept, muttering and twitching,
While the shells crashed overhead.

The fifth day there came a hush;
We left our holes
And looked above the wreckage of the earth
To where the white clouds moved in silent lines
Across the untroubled blue.

Richard Aldington (1892-1962)
from Images of War, 1919

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

Richard Aldington biography

Friday, November 11, 2016

Evil / Le Mal – Arthur Rimbaud


While loud the red-flecked mouths of cannons sing
And grapeshot whistles under empty sky;
While, red and green, before each preening King,
The massed battalions break, and thousands die;
While flowers bloom and sweet grass grows again
In splendid sunshine, under summer heat,
And madness grinds a hundred thousand men
Into a steaming pile of rotting meat; . . .

A God smiles down through incense-laden air
At chalices and altars, gold, ornate,
And slowly dozes off to mumbled prayer;
But wakes when black-clad mothers, bowed with grief
And weeping, clink into His silver plate
The few coins in a knotted handkerchief.

Arthur Rimbaud
translated by George J. Dance, 2016

Creative Commons License
["Evil" by George J. Dance [translation of "Le Mal" by Arthur Rimbaud] is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.]

Le Mal

Tandis que les crachats rouges de la mitraille
Sifflent tout le jour par l'infini du ciel bleu;
Qu'écarlates ou verts, près du Roi qui les raille,
Croulent les bataillons en masse dans le feu;

Tandis qu'une folie épouvantable broie
Et fait de cent milliers d'hommes un tas fumant;
– Pauvres morts! dans l'été, dans l'herbe, dans ta joie,
Nature! ô toi qui fis ces hommes saintement! –

Il est un Dieu qui rit aux nappes damassées
Des autels, à l'encens, aux grands calices d'or;
Qui dans le bercement des hosannah s'endort,

Et se réveille, quand des mères, ramassées
Dans l'angoisse, et pleurant sous leur vieux bonnet noir,
Lui donnent un gros sou lié dans leur mouchoir!

Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891)

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Arthur Rimbaud biography

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Book of Dreams, II.4 / George MacDonald

from A Book of Dreams


Before I sleep, some dreams draw nigh,
  Which are not fancy mere;
For sudden lights an inward eye,
  And wondrous things appear.

Thus, unawares, with vision wide,
  A steep hill once I saw,
In faint dream lights, which ever hide
  Their fountain and their law.

And up and down the hill reclined
  A host of statues old;
Such wondrous forms as you might find
  Deep under ancient mould.

They lay, wild scattered, all along,
  And maimed as if in fight;
But every one of all the throng
  Was precious to the sight.

Betwixt the night and hill they ranged,
  In dead composure cast.
As suddenly the dream was changed,
  And all the wonder past.

The hill remained; but what it bore
  Was broken reedy stalks,
Bent hither, thither, drooping o'er,
  Like flowers o'er weedy walks.

For each dim form of marble rare,
  Bent a wind-broken reed;
So hangs on autumn-field, long-bare,
 Some tall and straggling weed.

The autumn night hung like a pall,
  Hung mournfully and dead;
And if a wind had waked at all,
  It had but moaned and fled.

George MacDonald (1824-1905)
from A Hidden Life, and other poems, 1864

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

George MacDonald biography

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Prayer of the Year / Ethelwyn Wetherald

Prayer of the Year

Leave me Hope when I am old,
    Strip my joys from me,
Let November to the cold
    Bare each leafy tree;
Chill my lover, dull my friend,
    Only, while I grope
To the dark the silent end,
    Leave me Hope!

Blight my bloom when I am old,
    Bid my sunlight cease;
If it need be from my hold
    Take the hand of Peace.
Leave no springtime memory,
    But upon the slope
Of the days that are to be,
    Leave me Hope!

Ethelwyn Wetherald (1857-1940)
from The House of the Trees, and other poems, 1895

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

Ethelwyn Wetherald biography

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Penny's Top 20 / October 2016

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

  1.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
  2.  Beside the Autumn poets sing, Emily Dickinson
  3.  An October Garden, Christina Rosetti
  4.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  5.  Especially when the October wind, Dylan Thomas
  6.  October: "The old eyes", H.L. Davis
  7.  After Apple Picking, Robert Frost
  8.  October, Mary Weston Fordham

  9.  October, William Cullen Bryant

10.  Dirge in Woods, George Meredith

11.  Gethsemane, Rudyard Kipling
A Song to Mithras, Rudyard Kipling
13.  The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot
14.  Puck's Song, Rudyard Kipling
15.  October, Paul Laurence Dunbar

16.  Hallowe'en in a Suburb, H.P. Lovecraft
17.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
18.  Long May You Live, George J. Dance
19.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance  
20.  Puella Parvula, Wallace Stevens

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