Sunday, January 29, 2017

January / William Carlos Williams


Again I reply to the triple winds
running chromatic fifths of derision
outside my window:
           Play louder.
You will not succeed. I am
bound more to my sentences
the more you batter at me
to follow you.
            And the wind,
as before, fingers perfectly
its derisive music.

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
from Sour Grapes, 1921

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Saturday, January 28, 2017

January (Upon the Ice) / J. Ashby-Sterry

from The Social Zodiac:


Upon the Ice, 'tis nice to glide,
A merry maiden by your side!
     The air is keen, the day is fine,
     You think the sport is most divine,
When skimming o'er the frozen tide.

To Miss Chinchilla you confide,
How proud you are to be her guide;
     Then try to cut some quaint design
                Upon the Ice.

With measured motion, rhythmic stride,
You put on speed and put on side:
     You cut the figures Eight and Nine —
     And sometimes on your back recline!
Such falls will sometimes come to pride,
                Upon the Ice.

J. Ashby-Sterry (1836-1917)
from The Lazy Minstrel, 1886

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

J. Ashby-Sterry biography

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Inaugural Poem / Richard Oakley

Inaugural Poem

As the cold steel gates close tight with you
On this most auspicious of days,
Regard more than the closed circles of few.
Think of the small man and the wisdom of small ways.

Though we witness witless labors of more,
That would, by decree, bring lower valleys,
We’ll stay humble on dark water's shared shore,
Till the still air clears for fairer seas.

We look to you, lead us past the dark wave;
To our greatest age. Ask us as well
To help you to make this country to have
It’s brightest, most sparkling era of yet. We shall

All unite and show this world our greatest measure:
Men and women, young and old, are our greatest treasure.

Richard Oakley, 2016

[All rights reserved - used with permission]

Saturday, January 21, 2017

America: A poem / Michael Pendragon

America: A poem

Celebrating the inauguration of our country's 45th president,
Donald J. Trump

Two hundred forty years ago
Our country’s fathers raised the cry
Of "Freedom!" till it shook the sky
And rocked the world below

Two hundred thirty thousand men
Took up their arms and took a stand
And drove the redcoats from our land
Then raised their cry again

To forge a nation bold and free
Where passion swelled with ev’ry breath
Demanding Liberty ... or death
Their freeborn destiny

With thirteen stripes and thirteen stars
Our country’s flag caught ev’ry breeze
As Freedom spread her canopies
O’er this great land of ours

Two hundred forty years and more
Our fathers lived and worked and died
And raised that symbol of our pride
In times of peace ... and war

We opened wide our country’s door
“Give us your poor” became our creed
We gave to foreign lands in need
Till we could give no more

Now I stand tall with head held high
And place my hand above my heart
And feel a joyful teardrop start
Each time our flag goes by

Though some might greet these words with scorn
Or burn our flag in "freedom's" name
And twist our history to shame
This land where I was born

Their braying only demonstrates
The volume of their hollow words
For even mules might still be heard
In these United States

Today we usher in an age
Where Liberty's triumphant roar
Shall thunder as in days of yore
Till despots fear her rage

Let Freedom ring throughout the lands
Embracing everyone it meets
On North Korea’s goosestepped streets
Or Syria’s blood-drenched sands

Let terror’s minions cow’r in fear
Beneath the Eagle’s outstretched wings
Though cracked and worn our bell still rings
Its song for all to hear:


Michael Pendragon, 2016
[All rights reserved - used with permission]

Michael Pendragon biography

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Winter / Samuel Johnson


No more the morn, with tepid rays,
  Unfolds the flow'r of various hue;
Noon spreads no more the genial blaze,
  Nor gentle eve distils the dew.

The ling'ring hours prolong the night,
  Usurping darkness shares the day;
Her mists restrain the force of light,
  And Phoebus holds a doubtful sway.

By gloomy twilight, half reveal'd,
  With sighs we view the hoary hill,
The leafless wood, the naked field,
  The snow-topp'd cot, the frozen rill.

No musick warbles through the grove,
  No vivid colours paint the plain;
No more, with devious steps, I rove
  Through verdant paths, now sought in vain.

Aloud the driving tempest roars,
  Congeal'd, impetuous show'rs descend;
Haste, close the window, bar the doors,
  Fate leaves me Stella, and a friend.

In nature's aid, let art supply
  With light and heat my little sphere;
Rouse, rouse the fire, and pile it high,
  Light up a constellation here.

Let musick sound the voice of joy,
  Or mirth repeat the jocund tale;
Let love his wanton wiles employ,
  And o'er the season wine prevail.

Yet time life's dreary winter brings,
  When mirth's gay tale shall please no more
Nor musick charm – though Stella sings;
  Nor love, nor wine, the spring restore.

Catch, then, Oh! catch the transient hour,
  Improve each moment as it flies;
Life's a short summer – man a flow'r:
  He dies – alas! how soon he dies!

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Winter: A dirge / Thomas Stott

Winter: A dirge

Once more the Sire of Storms his cloudy tent
Has pitched upon our Northern hemisphere,
And, from his shadowy seat,
Forc'd Autumn to retire.

The feeble race of flow'rs have breath'd their last,
And sad, and solemn, sounds the frequent knell
Of rural Beauty gone —
Of rural Pleasure lost!

Invidious Hoar-frost, perching on the spray,
Where late the wood-lark sang his sweet farewell,
Pierces, with fatal sting,
The green leaf's tender nerve.

Waving his ebon wand, the surly Pow'r
Calls forth from their dank cells the chilling train
Of foul unwholesome fogs,
And glooms of hideous hue.

The curtain, that enclos'd Morn's rosy couch,
No more its gay embroider'd folds displays,
As from it she descends
To greet the rising Sun.

Eve, like a Mourner, muffled in her weeds,
Beside the tomb of one she dearly lov'd,
Eyes the dull scene awhile —
Then, with a sigh, departs

To light her chariot on its dreary way.
Night, now, needs all her lamps; save when the Moon
Pours from her silver urn
The radiant flood around.

Faint Nature falls a prey to atrophy;
And all her living tribes seem sorrowful
Their common Parent, thus
Declining, to behold.

But those, to whom the God, who governs all,
Gave intellectual light, to see and judge,
They know that, by and by,
Her health will be restor'd.

They know that, by and by, the breath of Spring,
With renovated vigour, will inspire
Her faded form again,
And deck it with new charms.

Thomas Stott (1755-1829)
from Walker's Hibernian Magazine, 1802

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Thomas Stott biography

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Blow, blow, thou winter wind / William Shakespeare

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
   Thou art not so unkind
      As man’s ingratitude;
   Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
      Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly: 
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly: 
   Then, heigh-ho, the holly! 
      This life is most jolly. 

   Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
   That dost not bite so nigh
      As benefits forgot:
   Though thou the waters warp,
      Thy sting is not so sharp
      As friend remembered not.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly: 
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly: 
   Then, heigh-ho, the holly! 
      This life is most jolly. 

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
from As You Like It, 1623

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Snow / Louis MacNeice


The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes –
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one's hands –
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

Louis MacNeice (1907-1963)
from Poems, 1935

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Louis MacNeice biography

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Ode to Liberty / James G. Percival

from "Carmen Seculare"

Into the gulf of past eternity
Another year, in all its pride, has roll'd,
And soon its brightest pageantry shall be
Lost in the long-forgotten days of old;
Oblivion draws around its darkest fold
To hide the pomp, that millions gaz'd upon;
The curfew of departed joys has toll'd,
Another circle in our life is run,
And nearer draws the goal, where all of earth is won.

A year has ended — let the good man pause,
And think, for he can think, of all its crime,
And toil, and suffering. Nature has her laws,
That will not brook infringement; in all time,
All circumstance, all state, in every clime,
She holds aloft the same avenging sword;
And sitting on her boundless throne sublime,
The vials of her wrath, with justice stor'd,
Shall, in her own good hour, on all that's ill be pour'd.

And Kings, who hug themselves in sordid ease
And revel in their vassals' blood and tears,
Who grasp at all can sense or passion please,
And build their strength on others' wants and fears;
For them, the heap'd up vengeance of long years,
Pois'd like a snow-cliff on a mountain's brow,
Wild as the sounding avalanche careers,
Or oceans rushing in their stormy flow,
Shall bury all their power in one wide overthrow.

Revenge may hold her breath awhile, but still
The spirit boils within, and soon will burst,
Like lavas from their vaults — the long-check'd will
Breaks out with deeper fury, fed and nurst
By ever-growing outrage, till the worst,
And reddest, scourge of tyranny unbinds
The rusted links of cent'ries, which long curs'd
But dreaded, now the vassal rends, and finds
At once his gall'd limbs free and chainless as the winds.

Sov'reigns may band in holy leagues, and lock
Their fetters on a continent, which springs
To claim its birth right — they may coldly mock
The strivings of young Liberty, as things,
That are to them but toys to play with — Kings
Have long enough made men their play — the hour
When wrath shall wake, and triumph clap her wings
Over the broken images of power,
Draws nigh, and they, who rear the haught crest, soon will cower.

* * *

There is a twilight dawning on the world,
The herald of a full and perfect day,
When Liberty's wide flag shall be unfurl'd,
And kings shall bow to her superior sway:
Already she is on her august way,
And marching upward to her final goal;
Nations the warning of her voice obey,
Away the clouds of fear and error roll,
The chain is broke, that bound the thrall'd and fetter'd soul.

James G. Percival (1795-1856)
from Clio, 1822

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

James G. Percival biography

Penny's Top 20 / December 2016

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

  1.  I heard a bird sing, Oliver Hereford
  2.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens 
  3.  The Waits, Margaret Deland
  4.  Snowstorm in December, Ilya Shambat
  5.  Whilst Shepherds Watch't, Nahum Tate
  6.  Frost at Midnight, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  7.  King Kong, James D. Senetto
  8.  Before the Snow, Andrew Laing

  9.  The Journey of the Magi, T.S. Eliot

10.  The Fall of the Leaf, Richard Watson Dixon

11.  Evil / Le Mal, Arthur Rimbaud
Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
13.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance  
14.  Lines to the New Year, 1822, Adam Hood Burwell
15.  Long May You Live, George J. Dance
16.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
17.  Skating, William Wordsworth
18.  A Winter's Tale, D.H. Lawrence
19.  Penny's OS, George J. Dance
20.  Puella Parvula, Wallace Stevens

Source: Blogger, "Stats"