Sunday, January 13, 2019

Winter Solitude / Archibald Lampman

Winter Solitude

I saw the city's towers on a luminous pale-gray sky;
Beyond them a hill of the softest mistiest green,
With naught but frost and the coming of night between,
And a long thin cloud above the colour of August rye.

I sat in the midst of a plain on my snowshoes with bended knee
Where the thin wind stung my cheeks,
And the hard snow ran in little ripples and peaks,
Like the fretted floor of a white and petrified sea.

And a strange peace gathered about my soul and shone,
As I sat reflecting there,
In a world so mystically fair,
So deathly silent  —  I so utterly alone.

Archibald Lampman (1861-1899)
from At the Long Sault, and other new poems, 1943

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Archibald Lampman biography

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Frosted Pane / Charles G.D. Roberts

The Frosted Pane

One night came Winter noiselessly, and leaned
    Against my window-pane.
In the deep stillness of his heart convened
    The ghosts of all his slain.

Leaves, and ephemera, and stars of earth,
    And fugitives of grass,—
White spirits loosed from bonds of mortal birth,
    He drew them on the glass.

Charles G.D. Roberts (1860-1943)
from The Book of the Native, 1896

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

Charles G.D. Roberts biography

Sunday, January 6, 2019

An Old Man's Winter Night / Robert Frost

An Old Man's Winter Night

All out of doors looked darkly in at him
Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars,
That gathers on the pane in empty rooms.
What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze
Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.
What kept him from remembering what it was
That brought him to that creaking room was age.
He stood with barrels round him — at a loss.
And having scared the cellar under him
In clomping there, he scared it once again
In clomping off;—and scared the outer night,
Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar
Of trees and crack of branches, common things,
But nothing so like beating on a box.
A light he was to no one but himself
Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what,
A quiet light, and then not even that.
He consigned to the moon,— such as she was,
So late-arising,— to the broken moon
As better than the sun in any case
For such a charge, his snow upon the roof,
His icicles along the wall to keep;
And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt
Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted,
And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept.
One aged man — one man — can't fill a house,
A farm, a countryside, or if he can,
It's thus he does it of a winter night.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)
from Mountain Interval, 1920

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

Robert Frost biography

Saturday, January 5, 2019

January Morning / Michael Strange

January Morning

How grey the city day!
How heavy with despair,
The very hush of wind
Is imminent with care.
O! how my spirit fits
The pressure of this sigh
And groans beneath a wish
To vacillate and die!


A morning when 'tis dull to live,
And still more dull to die;
A morning when 'tis sad to laugh
And more sad still to cry;
A morning that is grey with mist
And heavy with the rain.
As if the air were drenched in tears
Upon a wind of pain.

Michael Strange (1890-1950)
from Miscellaneous Poems, 1916

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

Michael Strange biography

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year's Morning / Helen Hunt Jackson

New Year’s Morning

 Only a night from old to new!
Only a night, and so much wrought!
The Old Year’s heart all weary grew,
But said: “The New Year rest has brought.”
The Old Year’s hopes its heart laid down,
As in a grave; but, trusting, said:
“The blossoms of the New Year’s crown
Bloom from the ashes of the dead.”
The Old Year’s heart was full of greed;
With selfishness it longed and ached,
And cried: “I have not half I need.
My thirst is bitter and unslaked.
But to the New Year’s generous hand
All gifts in plenty shall return;
True love it shall understand;
By all my failures it shall learn.
I have been reckless; it shall be
Quiet and calm and pure of life.
I was a slave; it shall go free,
And find sweet peace where I leave strife.”
Only a night from old to new!
Never a night such changes brought.
The Old Year had its work to do;
No New Year miracles are wrought.

 Always a night from old to new!
Night and the healing balm of sleep!
Each morn is New Year’s morn come true,
Morn of a festival to keep.
All nights are sacred nights to make
Confession and resolve and prayer;
All days are sacred days to wake
New gladness in the sunny air.
Only a night from old to new;
Only a sleep from night to morn.
The new is but the old come true;
Each sunrise sees a new year born.

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)
from Poems, 1886

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography

Penny's Top 20 / December 2018

Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in December  2018:

  1.  The Bright Extensive Will, AE Reiff
  2.  A Holiday, Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  3.  Snow, Raymond Holden
  4.  Cease Fire, George J. Dance
  5.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  6.  An Ode on the Birth of our Saviour, Robert Herrick
  7.  little tree, E.E. Cummings
  8.  Winter Song (yuefu) 
  9.  Dirge of the Departed Year, John Leyden

10.  The Day, Theodore Spencer

11.  Age, Richard Garnett
12.  All Things Burn, Goodridge MacDonald
13.  Decorating, Rik Roots
14.  Christmas Comes Again, Elizabeth Drew Stoddard
15.  Christmas 1915, Percy MacKaye
16.  Twice a week the winter thorough, A.E. Housman
17.  The Branch, AE Reiff
18.  A Christmas Song, William Cox Bennett
19.  Christmas Bells, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
20.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Monday, December 31, 2018

Dirge of the Departed Year / John Leyden

Dirge of the Departed Year

To Olivia

Malaya's woods and mountains ring
     With voices strange but sad to hear;
And dark unbodied spirits sing
     The dirge of the departed year.

Lo! now, methinks, in tones sublime,
     As viewless o'er our heads they bend,
They whisper, "thus we steal your time,
     Weak mortals! till your days shall end."

Then wake the dance, and wake the song.
     Resound the festive mirth and glee!
Alas! the days have pass'd along —
     The days we never more shall see.

But let me brush the nightly dews,
     Beside the shell-depainted shore,
And mid the sea-weeds sit to muse
     On days that shall return no more.

Olivia, ah! forgive the bard,
     If sprightly strains alone are dear:
His notes are sad, for he has heard
     The footsteps of the parting year.

'Mid friends of youth, belov'd in vain,
     Oft have I hail'd this jocund day.
If pleasure brought a thought of pain,
     I charm'd it with a passing lay.

Friends of my youth, for ever dear,
     Where are you from this bosom fled?
A lonely man I linger here,
     Like one that has been long time dead.

Fore-doom 'd to seek an early tomb,
     For whom the pallid grave-flowers blow,
I hasten on my destin'd doom,
     And sternly mock at joy or woe.

Yet, while the circling year returns,
     Till years to me return no more,
Still in my breast affection burns
     With purer ardour than before.

Departed year! thine earliest beam,
     When first it grac'd thy splendid round,
Beheld me by the Caveri's stream,
     A man unblest on holy ground.

With many a lingering step and slow,
     I left Mysura's hills afar,
Through Curga's rocks I past below,
     To trace the lakes of Malabar.

Sweet Malabar! thy suns, that shine
     With soften'd light through summer showers,
Might charm a sadder soul than mine
     To joy amid thy lotus-flowers.

For each sweet scene I wander'd o'er,
     Fair scenes that shall be ever dear,
From Curga's hills to Travencore —
     I hail thy steps, departed year!

But chief that in this eastern isle,
     Girt by the green and glistering wave,
Olivia's kind endearing: smile
     Seem'd to recall me from the grave.

When, far beyond Malaya's sea,
      I trace dark Soonda's forests drear,
Olivia! I shall think of thee;—
      And bless thy steps, departed year!

Each morn or evening spent with thee
     Fancy shall mid the wilds restore
In all their charms, and they shall be
     Sweet days that shall return no more.

Still may'st thou live in bliss secure,
     Beneath that friend's protecting care,
And may his cherish'd life endure
     Long, long, thy holy love to share.

John Leyden (1775-1811) 
January 1806
from Poetical Works, 1875

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]