Sunday, September 25, 2016

Autumn Twilight / Arthur Symons

Autumn Twilight

The long September evening dies
     In mist along the fields and lanes;
Only a few faint stars surprise
     The lingering twilight as it wanes.

Night creeps across the darkening vale;
     On the horizon tree by tree
Fades into shadowy skies as pale
     As moonlight on a shadowy sea.

And, down the mist-enfolded lanes.
     Grown pensive now with evening.
See, lingering as the twilight wanes,
     Lover with lover wandering.

Arthur Symons (1865-1945)
from London Nights, 1895

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

Saturday, September 24, 2016

In September / Amy Levy

In September

The sky is silver-grey; the long
    Slow waves caress the shore.
On such a day as this I have been glad,
    Who shall be glad no more.

Amy Levy (1861-1889)
from A London Plane-tree, and other verse, 1889

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Amy Levy biography

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Indian Summer / Archibald Lampman

Indian Summer

The old grey year is near his term in sooth,
And now with backward eye and soft-laid palm
Awakens to a golden dream of youth,
A second childhood lovely and most calm,
And the smooth hour about his misty head                            
An awning of enchanted splendour weaves,
Of maples, amber, purple and rose-red,
And droop-limbed elms down-drooping golden leaves.
With still half-fallen lids he sits and dreams
Far in a hollow of the sunlit wood,    
Lulled by the murmur of thin-threading streams,
Nor sees the polar armies overflood
The darkening barriers of the hills, nor hears
The north-wind ringing with a thousand spears.

Archibald Lampman (1861-1899)
from Alcyone, 1899

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Archibald Lampman biography

Saturday, September 17, 2016

September / Hilaire Belloc


I, from a window where the Meuse is wide,
Looked eastward out to the September night;
The men that in the hopeless battle died
Rose, and deployed, and stationed for the fight;
A brumal army, vague and ordered large
For mile on mile by some pale general;
I saw them lean by companies to the charge,
But no man living heard the bugle-call.

And fading still, and pointing to their scars,
They fled in lessening clouds, where gray and high
Dawn lay along the heaven in misty bars;
But watching from that eastern casement, I
Saw the Republic splendid in the sky,
And round her terrible head the morning stars.

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Hilaire Belloc biography

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Names / Billy Collins

The Names

Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.
A soft rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,
And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,
I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,
Then Baxter and Calabro,
Davis and Eberling, names falling into place
As droplets fell through the dark.
Names printed on the ceiling of the night.
Names slipping around a watery bend.
Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.
In the morning, I walked out barefoot
Among thousands of flowers
Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,
And each had a name --
Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal
Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.
Names written in the air
And stitched into the cloth of the day.
A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.
Monogram on a torn shirt,
I see you spelled out on storefront windows
And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.
I say the syllables as I turn a corner --
Kelly and Lee,
Medina, Nardella, and O'Connor.
When I peer into the woods,
I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden
As in a puzzle concocted for children.
Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,
Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,
Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.
Names written in the pale sky.
Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.
Names silent in stone
Or cried out behind a door.
Names blown over the earth and out to sea.
In the evening -- weakening light, the last swallows.
A boy on a lake lifts his oars.
A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,
And the names are outlined on the rose clouds --
Vanacore and Wallace,
(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)
Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.
Names etched on the head of a pin.
One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.
A blue name needled into the skin.
Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,
The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.
Alphabet of names in a green field.
Names in the small tracks of birds.
Names lifted from a hat
Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.
Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.
So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.

Billy Collins
from Voices - Compassionate Education, 2011

[Licensed under Creative Commons license BY-NC-SA 3.0 - some rights reserved]

Billy Collins biography

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hymn to the Month of September / John Davies

Hymn to the Month of September

Each month hath praise in some degree;
Let May to others seem to be
In sense the sweetest Season;
September thou art best to me,
And best doth please my reason.

But neither for thy corn nor wine
Extol I those mild days of thine,
Though corn and wine might praise thee;
Heaven gives thee honour more divine,
And higher fortunes raise thee.   

Renown’d art thou (sweet month) for this,
Emong thy days her birth-day is;
Grace, plenty, peace and honour
In one fair hour with her were born;
Now since they still her crown adorn,
And still attend upon her.

Sir John Davies (1570-1626)
from Hymnes of Astraea; in acrostick verse, 1599

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Davies biography

Monday, September 5, 2016

Manhattan / Lola Ridge


Out of the night you burn, Manhattan,
In a vesture of gold —
Span of innumerable arcs,
Flaring and multiplying —
Gold at the uttermost circles fading
Into the tenderest hint of jade,
Or fusing in tremulous twilight blues,
Robing the far-flung offices,
Scintillant-storied, forking flame,
Or soaring to luminous amethyst
Over the steeples aureoled —

Diaphanous gold,
Veiling the Woolworth, argently
Rising slender and stark
Mellifluous-shrill as a vender's cry,
And towers squatting graven and cold
On the velvet bales of the dark,
And the Singer's appraising
Indolent idol's eye,
And night like a purple cloth unrolled —

Nebulous gold
Throwing an ephemeral glory about life's vanishing points,
Wherein you burn . . .
You of unknown voltage
Whirling on your axis . . .
Scrawling vermillion signatures
Over the night's velvet hoarding…
Insolent, towering spherical
To apices ever shifting.

Lola Ridge (1873-1941)
from The Ghetto, and other poems, 1918

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

Lola Ridge biography

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The City Revisited / Stephen Vincent Benét

The City Revisited

The grey gulls drift across the bay
Softly and still as flakes of snow
Against the thinning fog.  All day
I sat and watched them come and go;
And now at last the sun was set,
Filling the waves with colored fire
Till each seemed like a jewelled spire
Thrust up from some drowned city.  Soon
From peak and cliff and minaret
The city's lights began to wink,
Each like a friendly word.  The moon
Began to broaden out her shield,
Spurting with silver.  Straight before
The brown hills lay like quiet beasts
Stretched out beside a well-loved door,
And filling earth and sky and field
With the calm heaving of their breasts.

Nothing was gone, nothing was changed,
The smallest wave was unestranged
By all the long ache of the years
Since last I saw them, blind with tears.
Their welcome like the hills stood fast:
And I, I had come home at last.

So I laughed out with them aloud
To think that now the sun was broad,
And climbing up the iron sky,
Where the raw streets stretched sullenly
About another room I knew,
In a mean house — and soon there, too,
The smith would burst the flimsy door
And find me lying on the floor.
Just where I fell the other night,
After that breaking wave of pain. —
How they will storm and rage and fight,
Servants and mistress, one and all,
"No money for the funeral!"

I broke my life there.  Let it stand
At that.
                 The waters are a plain,
Heaving and bright on either hand,
A tremulous and lustral peace
Which shall endure though all things cease,
Filling my heart as water fills
A cup.  There stand the quiet hills.
So, waiting for my wings to grow,
I watch the gulls sail to and fro,
Rising and falling, soft and swift,
Drifting along as bubbles drift.
And, though I see the face of God
Hereafter — this day have I trod
Nearer to Him than I shall tread
Ever again.  The night is dead.
And there's the dawn, poured out like wine
Along the dim horizon-line.
And from the city comes the chimes —

We have our heaven on earth — sometimes!

Stephen Vincent Benét
from Young Adventure: A book of poems, 1918

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

Stephen Vincent Benét biography

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Penny's Top 20 / August 2016

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

  1.  The Song of the Ungirt Runners, Charles Hamilton Sorley
  2.  Written after Swimming from Sestos to Abydos, Lord Byron
  3.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
  4.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  5.  To the Swimmer, Countee Cullen
  6.  August Night on Georgian Bay, William Wilfred Campbell
  7.  Sport, John Colin Dunlop
  8.  Casey at the Bat, Ernest Lawrence Thayer

  9.  August Wind, Margaret Deland

10.  Vitai Lampada, Henry Newbolt

11.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance
12.  Pilgrim Summer, Michael Pendragon

13.  Long May You Live, George J. Dance
14.  The Bed of Old John Zeller, Wallace Stevens
15.  A Boy and His Dad, Edgar Guest

16.  Puella Parvula, Wallace Stevens
17.  Poem with Rhythms, Wallace Stevens
18.  Icicle Drops, Arthur John Lockhart
19.  A November Rose, Dollie Radford
20.  Woodman, Spare that Tree!, George Pope Morris

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