Sunday, January 10, 2021

Winter in the Country / Claude McKay

Winter in the Country

Sweet life! how lovely to be here
     And feel the soft sea-laden breeze
Strike my flushed face, the spruce's fair
     Free limbs to see, the lesser trees'

Bare hands to touch, the sparrow's cheep
     To heed, and watch his nimble flight
Above the short brown grass asleep.
     Love glorious in his friendly might,

Music that every heart could bless,
     And thoughts of life serene, divine,
Beyond my power to express,
     Crowd round this lifted heart of mine!

But oh! to leave this paradise
     For the city's dirty basement room,
Where, beauty hidden from the eyes,
     A table, bed, bureau and broom

In corner set, two crippled chairs
     All covered up with dust and grim
With hideousness and scars of years,
     And gaslight burning weird and dim,

Will welcome me . . . And yet, and yet
     This very wind , the winter birds,
The glory of the soft sunset,
     Come there to me in words.

Claude McKay (1889-1948)
from Harlem Shadows, 1922

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

Claude McKay biography

Saturday, January 9, 2021

The Holly and the Ivy

The Holly and the Ivy

The holly and the ivy
     Now are both well grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood
     The holly bears the crown.

The rising of the sun,
     The running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
     The singing in the choir.

The holly bears a blossom
     As white as the lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
     To be our sweet Saviour.

The rising of the sun . . .

The holly bears a berry
      As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
     To do poor sinners good.

The rising of the sun . . .

The holly bears a prickle
     As sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
     On Christmas day in the morn.

The rising of the sun . . .

The holly bears a bark
     As bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
     For to reedem us all.

The rising of the sun . . .

The holly and the ivy
     Now are both well grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood
     The holly bears the crown.

The rising of the sun,
     The running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
     The singing in the choir.

Anonymous, 18th century
from A Garland of Christmas Carols, 1861

[Poem is in the public domain]

Sunday, January 3, 2021

The Fairy in Winter / Walter de la Mare

The Fairy in Winter

(For a drawing by Dorothy Puvis Lathrop)

There was a Fairy-flake of winter —
Who, when the snow came, whispering, Silence,
Sister crystal to crystal sighing,
Making of meadow argent palace,
⁠Night a star-sown solitude,
Cried 'neath her frozen eaves, 'I burn here!'

Wings diaphanous, beating bee-like,
Wand within fingers, locks enspangled,
Icicle foot, lip sharp as scarlet,
She lifted her eyes in her pitch-black hollow —
Green as stalks of weeds in water —
Breathed: stirred.

Rilled from her heart the ichor, coursing,
Flamed and awoke her slumbering magic.
Softlier than moth's her pinions trembled;
Out into blackness, light-like, she flittered,
Leaving her hollow cold, forsaken.

In air, o'er crystal, rang twangling night-wind.
Bare, rimed pine-woods murmured lament.

Walter de la Mare
From The Veil, and other poems, 1913

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

Walter de la Mare biography

Saturday, January 2, 2021

January / Ruby Archer


The snow is diamond for a fairy's feet;
Blithely and bonnily she trips along,
Her lips a-carol with a merry song,
And in her eyes the meaning. "Life is sweet!"
The rhythm of youth is in her pulses' beat,
The lissome form is beautiful and strong,
The happy heart is innocent of wrong.
Young Hope incarnate seems the earth to greet,
How fair is she — just pinker than the snow.
Behold — a roguish coyness in her face!
Ah see — a spray of saucy mistletoe
Is nestling in her hair. A chase! A chase!
A gleeful laugh,— the vision bright has paled,
Is lost in clouds her laughing breath exhaled.

Ruby Archer (1873-1961)

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Ruby Archer biography

Friday, January 1, 2021

Old and New Year Ditties / Christina Rossetti

Old and New Year Ditties


New Year met me somewhat sad:
Old Year leaves me tired,
Stripped of favourite things I had,
Baulked of much desired:
Yet farther on my road to-day
God willing, farther on my way.

New Year coming on apace,
What have you to give me?
Bring you scathe, or bring you grace,
Face me with an honest face;
You shall not deceive me:
Be it good or ill, be it what you will,
It needs shall help me on my road,
My rugged way to heaven, please God.


Watch with me, men, women, and children dear,
You whom I love, for whom I hope and fear,
Watch with me this last vigil of the year.
Some hug their business, some their pleasure-scheme;
Some seize the vacant hour to sleep or dream;
Heart locked in heart some kneel and watch apart.

Watch with me blessed spirits, who delight
All through the holy night to walk in white,
Or take your ease after the long-drawn fight.
I know not if they watch with me: I know
They count this eve of resurrection slow,
And cry, ‘How long?’ with urgent utterance strong.

Watch with me Jesus, in my loneliness:
Though others say me nay, yet say Thou yes;
Though others pass me by, stop Thou to bless.
Yea, Thou dost stop with me this vigil night;
To-night of pain, to-morrow of delight:
I, Love, am Thine; Thou, Lord my God, art mine.


Passing away, saith the World, passing away:
Chances, beauty and youth sapped day by day:
Thy life never continueth in one stay.
Is the eye waxen dim, is the dark hair changing to grey
That hath won neither laurel nor bay?
I shall clothe myself in Spring and bud in May:
Thou, root-stricken, shalt not rebuild thy decay
On my bosom for aye.
Then I answered: Yea.

Passing away, saith my Soul, passing away:
With its burden of fear and hope, of labour and play;
Hearken what the past doth witness and say:
Rust in thy gold, a moth is in thine array,
A canker is in thy bud, thy leaf must decay.
At midnight, at cockcrow, at morning, one certain day
Lo, the Bridegroom shall come and shall not delay:
Watch thou and pray.
Then I answered: Yea.

Passing away, saith my God, passing away:
Winter passeth after the long delay:
New grapes on the vine, new figs on the tender spray,
Turtle calleth turtle in Heaven’s May.
Though I tarry wait for Me, trust Me, watch and pray:
Arise, come away, night is past and lo it is day,
My love, My sister, My spouse, thou shalt hear Me say.
Then I answered: Yea.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
from Goblin Market,  and other poems, 1862

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide.]

Christina Rossetti biography

Penny's Top 20 / December 2020


Penny's Top 20

The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in December 2020:

  1.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  2.  The World's Body, AE Reiff
  3.  Christmas Bells, Edward Capern
  4.  The Bright Extensive Will, AE Reiff
  5.  Naked December have I curtained out, Charles Leonard Moore
  6.  The Autumn Sheaf, Elizabeth Drew Stoddard
  7.  Autumn: An ode, John Hawkesworth
  8.  On the Winter Solstice, Mark Akenside
  9.  A Miracle, George J. Dance
10.  Under the Holly Bough, Charles Mackay

11.  The time draws near the birth of Christ, Alfred Tennyson
12.  Connecticut Autumn, Hyam Plutzik
13.  Believe It or Not, George J. Dance
14.  A Christmas Carol, J. Ashby-Sterry
15.  Lunar Baedeker, Mina Loy
16.  Autumn Fires, Robert Louis Stevenson
17.  Love-songs of the Open Road, Kendall Banning
18.  Autumn, T.E. Hulme 
19.  The Sky, Elizabeth Madox Roberts
20. Bird Cage, Hector de Sain-Denys Garneau

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Penny's Top 100 / 2020


The 100 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during 2020:

  1. Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  2. The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens
  3. June Rain, Richard Aldington
  4. Amarant, AE Reiff
  5. The Key, George J. Dance

  6. Dandelions, George Sulzbach
  7. You have to believe in happiness, Douglas Malloch
  8. The Plant, AE Reiff
  9. Autumn, T.E. Hulme
10. The moon and stars are making love, George J. Dance

11. Summer in the South, Paul Laurence Dunbar
12. Spring, George J. Dance
13. A Father to His Son, Carl Sandburg
14. The World's Body, AE Reiff
15. Sunlight, AE Reiff

16. Ode to May, Mary Darwall
17. Sweet Wild April, William Force Stead
18. Winter Song, Elizabeth Tollett
19. The Bright Extensive Will, AE Reiff
20. Skating, William Wordsworth

21. Believe It or Not, George J. Dance
22. Winter Heat, Will Dockery
23. To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time, Robert Herrick
24. Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
25. A something in a Summer's day, Emily Dickinson

26. Late Summer Alcaics, Edwin Arlington Robinson
27. Green, Paul Verlaine
28. Over and Over Again, Antti
29. The Wild Flower's Song, William Blake
30. September, Carlos Wilcox

31. One Spring, Eda Lou Walton
32. Wind-blown, Muna Lee
33. In August, Katharine Lee Bates
34. When the Hounds of Spring, A.C. Swinburne
35. April's Fool, Will E. Cowles

36. Falltime, Carl Sandburg
37. A Rhyme for June / After the Rain, Lizette Woodworth Reese
38. A Garden of Love, Lilian Leveridge
39. A Pastoral, A. Mary F. Robinson
40. Invitation to the Voyage, Charles Baudelaire

41. January 1795, Perdita
42. Winter Rain, Christina Rossetti
43. Evening on Calais Beach, William Wordsworth
44. The Lover in April, Charles Hanson Towne
45. Midmost June, Wilfred Rowland Childe

46. Sick and sullen and sad the slow days go, H.C. Beeching
47. The Magician, Lilian Leveridge
48. Silver Filigree, Elinor Wylie
49. Avril, la Douce Esperance, Thomas Ashe
50. New Year on Dartmoor, Sylvia Plath

51. December Days, Caleb Prentiss
52. Where Once Poe Walked, H.P. Lovecraft
53. A New England June, Bliss Carman
54. Ode on the Pleasure Arising from Vicissitude, Thomas Gray
55. September, George Arnold

56. Easter Hymn, A.E. Housman
57. Songs to Joannes XIII, Mina Loy
58. Summer, David Morton
59. July, George Meredith
60. February, Folgore de San Geminiano

61. At the Seaside, Robert Louis Stevenson
62. Summer to Autumn, Glenn Ward Dresbach
63. Elegy in April and September, Wilfred Owen
64. Digging, Edward Thomas
65. Verses Written in the Spring (s1), Ann Batten Cristall

66. A Winter Bluejay, Sara Teasdale
67. An April Interlude - 1917, Bernard Freeman Trotter
68. August, Annette Wynne
69. Christmas Bells, Edward Capern
70. Love's Philosophy, Percy Bysshe Shelley

71. A March Wind, Francis Sherman
72. Who Made the Law?, Leslie Coulson
73. Stanzas for Music, Lord Byron
74. Autumn It Was, William Browne
75. The Fragile Season, Yvor Winters

76. By the Autumn Sea, Paul Hamilton Hayne
77. February, Rebecca Hey
78. Autumn Communion, Gladys Cromwell
79. The Sun this March, Wallace Stevens
80. The Mocking, Goodridge MacDonald

81. But One, Ella Wheeler Wilcox
82. Naked December have I curtained out, Charles Leonard Moore
83. Summer and the Poet, William Howitt
84. To the Summer Sun, Marguerite Wilkinson 
85. Easter, Edmund Spenser

86. Autumn, W.H. Davies
87. The Autumn Sheaf, Elizabeth Drew Stoddard
88. Winter Memories, Henry David Thoreau
89. November Blue, Alice Meynell
90. The Midsummer Wish, John Hawkesworth

91. August, Mary Slade
92. In September, Edward Dowden
93. November, Ethelwyn Wetherald
94. Fall of Stars, George H. Dillon
95. Winter Poetry, Gladys Cromwell

96. A Winter's Tale, Dylan Thomas
97. Goldenrod, John Banister Tabb 
98. So It Befell, Eda Lou Walton
99. Autumn Dream, Lilian Leveridge
100. An Ode for the Canadian Confederacy, Charles G.D. Roberts

Source: Blogger, "Stats"