Monday, January 31, 2011

Penny's Top 20 - January 2011

The 20 most-visited poems on  The Betty Blog during January 2011:

   1. A Sonnet of the Moon, Charles Best
  2. Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Wallace Stevens
  3. A Scroll, George Dance
  4. Autumn Song, George Dance
  5. The Sky is low, Emily Dickinson

  6. The Dove of New Snow, Vachel Lindsay
  7. Winter Field, A.E. Coppard
  8. Winter Love, George Dance
  9. Snow on the East Wind, Edward Plunkett
10. A January Morning, Archibald Lampman

11. The Dark Hills, Edwin Arlington Robinson
12. Betty (or Betty's Hat), George Dance
13. The Winter Lakes, William Wilfred Campbell
14. Romance Novel, Arthur Rimbaud
15. Large Red Man Reading, Wallace Stevens

16. Velvet Shoes, Elinor Wylie
17. December, George Dance
18. Sonnet. The Token, John Donne
19. Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, Alfred Tennyson
20. A Winter Picture, Ethelwyn Wetherald

[based on Blogger "Stats"]

The Snow Man / Wallace Stevens

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), 1921
from Harmonium, 1923

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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Winter Love / George J. Dance

Winter Love

Most anyone could fall in love
      When spring is in the breeze,
When sun bakes down and pungent sap
      Pours through the veins and trees;

But love that lasts through freezing blasts
      Is rare beyond a price.
How beautiful when love endures
      Preserved in snow and ice.

George J. Dance

[All rights reserved by the author - Used with permission]

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Dove of New Snow / Vachel Lindsay

The Dove of New Snow

I give you a house of snow,
I give you the flag of the world above it,
I give you snow-bushes
In a long row,
I give you a snow dove,
And ask you
To love it.

The snow-dove flies in
At the snow-house window,
He is a ghost
And he casts no shadow,
His cry is the cry of love
From the meadow,
The meadow of spring where we walked in a glow,
The glittering, angelic meadow.

Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931)

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

Vachel Lindsay biography

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Dark Hills / Edwin Arlington Robinson

The Dark Hills

Dark hills at evening in the west,
Where sunset hovers like a sound
Of golden horns that sang to rest
Old bones of warriors under ground,
Far now from all the bannered ways
Where flash the legions of the sun,
You fade  as if the last of days
Were fading, and all wars were done.

Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)
from The Three Taverns, 1920

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

Edwin Arlington Robinson biography

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sonnet. The Token / John Donne

Sonnet. The Token

Send me some token, that my hope may live,
    Or that my easeless thoughts may sleep and rest;
Send me some honey to make sweet my hive,
    That in my passion I may hope the best.
I beg no ribbon wrought with thine own hands,
    To knit our loves in the fantastic strain
Of new-toucht youth; nor Ring to shew the stands
    Of our affection, as that’s round and plain,
So should our loves meet in simplicity.
    No, nor the Corals which thy wrist infold,
Lac’d up together in congruity,
    To shew our thoughts should rest in the same hold;
No, nor thy picture, though most gracious,
    And most desir’d, because best like the best;
Nor witty Lines, which are most copious,
    Within the Writings which thou hast addressed.
Send me nor this, nor that, t’increase my store,
But swear thou thinkst I love thee, and no more.

John Donne (1572-1631)
from Poems, 1633

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Donne biography

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Winter Lakes / William Wilfred Campbell

The Winter Lakes

Out in a world of death far to the northward lying,
     Under the sun and the moon, under the dusk and the day;
Under the glimmer of stars and the purple of sunsets dying,
     Wan and waste and white, stretch the great lakes away.

Never a bud of spring, never a laugh of summer,
     Never a dream of love, never a song of bird;
But only the silence and white, the shores that grow chiller and dumber,
     Wherever the ice winds sob, and the griefs of winter are heard.

Crags that are black and wet out of the gray lake looming,
     Under the sunset’s flush and the pallid, faint glimmer of dawn;
Shadowy, ghost-like shores, where midnight surfs are booming
     Thunders of wintry woe over the spaces wan.

Lands that loom like spectres, whited regions of winter,
     Wastes of desolate woods, deserts of water and shore;
A world of winter and death, within these regions who enter,
     Lost to summer and life, go to return no more.

Moons that glimmer above, waters that lie white under,
     Miles and miles of lake far out under the night;
Foaming crests of waves, surfs that shoreward thunder,
     Shadowy shapes that flee, haunting the spaces white.

Lonely hidden bays, moon-lit, ice-rimmed, winding,
     Fringed by forests and crags, haunted by shadowy shores;
Hushed from the outward strife, where the mighty surf is grinding
     Death and hate on the rocks, as sandward and landward it roars.

William Wilfred Campbell
from Lake Lyrics, and other poems, 1889

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

Biography of William Wilfred Campbell (by George Dance)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Saint-Denys Garneau book coming in February

I spent much of the weekend working on a new translation of a poem by my man Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau, "Pines against the light," for posting right here. But now I've decided against that. "Pines against the light" will going into the blog, but now in February, along with the other 27 poems in Garneau's first book.

Yes, I am translating the whole of Regards et jeux dans l'espace (1937), the one Garneau book published in his lifetime, by Feb. 1. A few poems are done: "Pines," of course, but also "Bird Cage" and "River of my eyes," both posted here last March. Two others have translations I did as a youth that need some minor revisions. Still, that leaves 23 poems to translate from scratch in just one week.  So I cannot guarantee the finality of these translations. One thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that, due to the blog format, I can revise the poems even after posting them in February. Another is my conviction that these translations fill a void.

Two Canadian poets have published translations of Garneau poems into English: F.R. Scott and John Glassco. As both died in the 1980's, their works will not become public domain for over 20 more years. So while their books are out of print, you will not find many of their translations on the Web, either.

Translations by both Glassco and Scott of six Garneau poems are appended to Thomas D. Ryan's 2003 Concordia U. thesis, The Textual Presence of the Translator. PDF file:  Others have written the odd English version of a Garneau poem, most often "Bird Cage." Benjamin Vogt gives four translations of his own, plus a solid introduction to Garneau's life and work, on his web page herehtttp://  Aside from that, there is no Garneau poetry in English on the Web.

I hope my translations help the poet get the attention and respect in the English-speaking world that he merits.

UPDATE, Feb. 3: Looking and playing in space / Regards et jeux dans l'espace is being blogged here:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Pines / Robert Service

The Pines

We sleep in the sleep of ages, the bleak, barbarian pines;
The gray moss drapes us like sages, and closer we lock our lines,
And deeper we clutch through the gelid gloom where never a sunbeam shines.

On the flanks of the storm-gored ridges are our black battalions massed;
We surge in a host to the sullen coast, and we sing in the ocean blast;
From empire of sea to empire of snow we grip our empire fast.

To the niggard lands were we driven, 'twixt desert and floes are we penned;
To us was the Northland given, ours to stronghold and defend;
Ours till the world be riven in the crash of the utter end;

Ours from the bleak beginning, through the aeons of death-like sleep;
Ours from the shock when the naked rock was hurled from the hissing deep;
Ours through the twilight ages of weary glacier creep.

Wind of the East, Wind of the West, wandering to and fro,
Chant your songs in our topmost boughs, that the sons of men may know
The peerless pine was the first to come, and the pine will be last to go!

We pillar the halls of perfumed gloom; we plume where the eagles soar;
The North-wind swoops from the brooding Pole, and our ancients crash and roar;
But where one falls from the crumbling walls shoots up a hardy score.

We spring from the gloom of the canyon's womb; in the valley's lap we lie;
From the white foam-fringe, where the breakers cringe to the peaks that tusk the sky,
We climb, and we peer in the crag-locked mere that gleams like a golden eye.

Gain to the verge of the hog-back ridge where the vision ranges free:
Pines and pines and the shadow of pines as far as the eye can see;
A steadfast legion of stalwart knights in dominant empery.

Sun, moon and stars give answer; shall we not staunchly stand,
Even as now, forever, wards of the wilder strand,
Sentinels of the stillness, lords of the last, lone land?

Robert Service
from Songs of a Sourdough, 1907

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

Robert Service (by George Dance)

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Winter Picture / Ethelwyn Wetherald

A Winter Picture

An air as sharp as steel, a sky
      Pierced with a million points of fire;
The level fields, hard, white and dry,
      A road as straight and tense as wire.

No hint of human voice or face
      In frost below or fire above,
Save where the smoke’s blue billowing grace
      Flies flag-like from the roofs of love.

Ethelwyn Wetherald
from The Last Robin, 1907

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

Ethelwy Wetherald biography

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Velvet Shoes / Elinor Wylie

Velvet Shoes

Let us walk in the white snow
      In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet and slow,
     At a tranquil pace,
     Under veils of white lace.

I shall go shod in silk,
     And you in wool,
White as white cow's milk,
     More beautiful
     Than the breast of a gull.

We shall walk through the still town
     In a windless peace;
We shall step upon white down,
     Upon silver fleece,
     Upon softer than these.

We shall walk in velvet shoes:
     Wherever we go
Silence will fall like dews
     On white silence below.
     We shall walk in the snow.

Elinor Wylie (1885-1928)
from Nets to Catch the Wind, 1921

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

Elinor Wylie biography

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snow on the East Wind / Edward Plunkett

Snow on the East Wind

A black horse came to visit us,
    His hooves on the hills drumming
All the way from the Caucasus,
    And was three days coming.

On his back was a lady light,
    And cruelly did she ride him.
He dropped dead at our doors by night
    As she softly stepped from astride him.

Edward Plunkett
from Fifty Poems, 1930

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Edward Plunkett, Lord Dunsany biography

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A January Morning / Archibald Lampman

A January Morning

The glittering roofs are still with frost; each worn
    Black chimney builds into the quiet sky
    Its curling pile to crumble silently.
Far out to westward on the edge of morn,
The slender misty city towers up-borne
    Glimmer faint rose against the pallid blue;
    And yonder on those northern hills, the hue
Of amethyst, hang fleeces dull as horn.
And here behind me come the woodmen's sleighs
    With shouts and clamorous squeakings; might and main
    Up the steep slope the horses stamp and strain,
Urged on by hoarse-tongued drivers — cheeks ablaze,
    Iced beards and frozen eyelids — team by team,
    With frost-fringed flanks, and nostrils jetting steam.

Archibald Lampman
from The Poems of Archibald Lampman, 1900

[Poem is in the public domaiin worldwide]

Archibald Lampman (by George Dance)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Penny's Top 100 of 2010 (1-10)

From Penny's Top 100: the 100 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during 2010:

   1. Penny (or Penny’s Hat), by George Dance
   2. Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, by Wallace Stevens
   3. Mars & Avril, by George Dance
   4. Esthétique
 du Mal, by Wallace Stevens
   5. Betty’s OS, by George Dance

   6. Romance Novel, by Arthur Rimbaud
   7. Large Red Man Reading, by Wallace Stevens
   8. Autumn Song, George Dance
   9. Ganesha Girl on Rankin, Will Dockery
 10. September Night, George Dance

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Penny's Top 100 of 2010 (11-20)

From Penny's Top 100: the 100 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during 2010:

 11. The Cup, Duncan Campbell Scott
 12. Betty’s OS 2.0, George Dance
 13. Bird Cage / Cage d’oiseau, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
 14. A Sonnet of the Moon, Charles Best
 15. Vowels / Voyelles, Arthur Rimbaud

 17. Fuji-san, George Dance
 18. A Meadow in Spring, Tom Bishop
 19. Baguette, David Rutkowski
20. Nebula, Desi DiNardo

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Penny's Top 100 of 2010 (21-30)

From Penny's Top 100: the 100 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during 2010:

21. A Vagabond Song, Bliss Carman
22. March, George Dance
23. The Weary Man, Crystal Matteau
24 .High Flight, John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
26. 4 poems, Tom Hendricks
27. In the Garden, George Dance
28. December, George Dance
30. Orbison, George Dance

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Penny's Top 100 of 2010 (31-40)

From Penny's Top 100: the 100 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during 2010:

31. Always There, George Dance
32. You Are My Thorn, Kasia Lachowska
33. Puella Parvula, Wallace Stevens
34. To Autumn, William Blake
35. Threat, R.K. Singh

36. Men Made Out of Words, Wallace Stevens
37. Concrete, Ray Heinrich
38. Portrait, Shaun Hull
39. Jumbo Park, Stuart Leichter
40. Remembrance, George Dance

Monday, January 10, 2011

Penny's Top 100 of 2010 (41-50)

From Penny's Top 100: the 100 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during 2010:

41. The Height of Land, Duncan Campbell Scott
42. Plow Sharing, Hieronymous707
43. The Smoker, nounofme
44. I know I am but summer to your heart, Edna St. Vincent Millay
45. Hero, Maureen Dance

46. 1914, Rupert Brooke
47. May, George Dance
48. News, A.E. Reiff
49. A Scroll, George Dance
50. Maui ‘70, Matt E.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Penny's Top 100 of 2010 (51-60)

From Penny's Top 100: the 100 most-visited poems on  The Betty Blog during 2010:

51. Prison, Dave Holloway
52. The Whitening, James D. Senetto
53. Indian Summer, William Wilfred Campbell
54. Sticky Sweaty, rickthecockroach
55. The Hawk, Raymond Knister

56. Knowing, David W. Lewry
57. The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens
58. Ground Zero, Shaun Hull
59. The Anxious Dead, John McCrae
60. S.I.W., Wilfred Owen

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Penny's Top 100 of 2010 (61-70)

From Penny's Top 100: the 100 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during 2010:

61. War is Kind, Stephen Crane
62. Sonny Rollins, Adam Lynn
63. Who Was Here First, David George
64. The Masterpiece of Dawn, Leslie Moon
65. Principia Poetica, Obsidian Eagle

66. Envoy, Ernest Dowson
67. Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
68. Haiku and triolet, R.S. Mallari
69. A Christmas Greeting, Walt Whitman
70. When Mary the Mother kissed the Child, Charles G.D. Roberts

Friday, January 7, 2011

Penny's Top 100 of 2010 (71-80)

From Penny's Top 100: the 100 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during 2010:

71. Snow, Madison Cawein
72. Poem with Rhythms, Wallace Stevens
73. The Book of Wisdom, Stephen Crane
74. Autumn’s Orchestra, Pauline Johnson
75. After the Winter, Claude McKay

76. The Gravedigger, Bliss Carman
77. The May Magnificat, Gerard Manley Hopkins
78. Shanghai, David Rutkowski
79. Mistletoe, Walter de la Mare
80. Ghost Yard of the Goldenrod, Bliss Carman

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Penny's Top 100 of 2010 (81-90)

From Penny's Top 100: the 100 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during 2010:

81. Good is Good. It is a Beautiful Night., Wallace Stevens
82. River of My Eyes / Rivière  de mes yeux, Hector de Saint-Denis
83. The Dying Philosopher To His Fiddler, John Drinkwater
84. July, George Dance
85. Sagacity, William Rose Benét

86. Boy Remembers in the Field, Raymond Knister
87. Tichborne’s Elegy, Chidiock Tichbourne
88. The Stretcher-Bearer, Robert Service
89. Break of Day in the Trenches, Isaac Rosenberg
90. O Holy Night / Minuit, chrétiens, Placide Cappeau

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Penny's Top 100 of 2010 (91-100)

From Penny's Top 100: the 100 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during 2010:

91. Christmas Bells, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
92. The Oxen, Thomas Hardy
93. The Flute of Spring, Bliss Carman
94. Let No Charitable Hope, Elinor Wylie
95. Minstrels, William Wordsworth

96. The Darkling Thrush, Thomas Hardy
97. Old Christmas, Mary Howitt
98. Things, Aline Kilmer
99. If I should learn, in some quite casual way, Edna St. Vincent      
100. Spring Breaks in Foam, Charles G.D. Roberts

Counting down Penny's Top 100

      For the next ten days, I'll be taking a short break from posting poetry. I need one. I've posted a poem every day for the past two months, with great results in attracting new readers to The Penny Blog.  Penny and I wish to assure those new readers, and our other regulars, that there will be no shortage of poetry to read over this time. Here is what we will be doing:
      Those who know me know that I'm a chart person; I have been since I was a lad, sitting at the transistor copying down the top 40 every Saturday. Last May I began making a chart here -- Penny's Top 20 -- covering the most-read poems on  The Penny Blog each month; the idea being to bring new titles to readers who might be unfamiliar with them. That idea included a Top 100 of the year in January, a time that has now arrived. 
      I expect, though, that merely giving a list of 100 poems would cause many readers to just skim, or even skip, it. That's what I'd do. And so we're going to count it down, just like a top 40 station. Each day for the next ten days, we will present a live-linked list of ten poems, starting with 91-100 and finishing with 1-10 in ten days. 
      Readers are encouraged to pick one poem from the ten, click through, and read. I hope that each list has at least one new poem for everyone. If you find and would rather read an old favourite, though, that is fine with us. Our only hope is that  you enjoy the countdown. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

No Possum, No Sop, No Taters / Wallace Stevens

No Possum, No Sop, No Taters

He is not here, the old sun,
As absent as if we were asleep.

The field is frozen. The leaves are dry.
Bad is final in this light.

In this bleak air the broken stalks
Have arms without hands. They have trunks

Without legs or, for that, without heads.
They have heads in which a captive cry

Is merely the moving of a tongue.
Snow sparkles like eyesight falling to earth,

Like seeing fallen brightly away.
The leaves hop, scraping on the ground.

It is deep January. The sky is hard.
The stalks are firmly rooted in ice.

It is in this solitude, a syllable,
Out of these gawky flitterings,

Intones its single emptiness,
The savagest hollow of winter-sound.

It is here, in this bad, that we reach
The last purity of the knowledge of good.

The crow looks rusty as he rises up.
Bright is the malice in his eye . . .

One joins him there for company,
But at a distance, in another tree.

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), 1943
from Transport to Summer, 1947

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Monday, January 3, 2011

Winter Field / A.E. Coppard

Winter Field

Sorrow on the acres,
    Wind in the thorn,
And an old man plowing
    Through the frosty morn.

 A flock of the dark birds,
    Rooks and their wives,
Follow the plow team
    The old man drives;

And troops of starlings,
    A-tittle-tat and prim,
Follow the rooks
    That follow him.

A.E. Coppard
from Pelagea, 1927

[All rights reserved by the author's estate - Please do not copy]

A.E. Coppard biography

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Sky is low / Emily Dickinson

The Sky is low –
the Clouds are mean.
A Travelling Flake
of Snow
Across a Barn
or through a Rut
Debates if it will go –

A Narrow Wind
complains all Day
How some one treated
Nature, like Us
is sometimes caught
Without her
Diadem –

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Emily Dickinson biography

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky / Alfred Tennyson


Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Alfred Tennyson
from In Memoriam A.H.H., 1850

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Alfred Tennyson biography

Penny's Top 20 - December 2010

The 20 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during December, 2010, ranked in order: 

    1. Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
    2. December, George J. Dance
    3. Penny (or Penny's Hat), George J. Dance
    4. Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Wallace Stevens
    5. A Scroll, George J. Dance

    6. Autumn Song, George J. Dance
    7. September Night, George J. Dance
    8. A Christmas Greeting, Walt Whitman
    9. When Mary the Mother kissed the Child, Charles G.D. Roberts
  10. Snow, Madison Cawein

  11. O Holy Night / Minuit, chrétiens, Placide Cappeau
  12. Mars & Avril, George J. Dance
  13. After the Winter, Claude McKay
  14. Mistletoe, Walter de la Mare
  15. The Oxen, Thomas Hardy

  16. Christmas Bells, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  17. Minstrels, William Wordsworth
  18. The Darkling Thrush, Thomas Hardy
  19. Old Christmas, Mary Howitt
 20. Ceremonies for Christmas, Robert Herrick