Sunday, October 14, 2018

Immoral / James Oppenheim


I keep walking around myself, mouth open with amazement:
For by all the ethical rules of life, I ought to be solemn and sad,
But, look you, I am bursting with joy.

I scold myself:
I say: Boy, your work has gone to pot:
You have scarcely enough money to last out the week:
And think of your responsibilities!
Whereupon, my heart bubbles over,
I puff on my pipe, and think how solemnly the world goes by my window,
And how childish people are, wrinkling their foreheads over groceries and rent.

For here jets life fresh and stinging in the vivid air:
The winds laugh to the jovial Earth:
The day is keen with Autumn's fine flavor of having done the year's work.
Earth, in her festival, calls her children to the crimson revels.
The trees are a drunken riot: the sunshine is dazzling . . .

Yes, I ought, I suppose, to be saddened and tragic:
But joy drops from me like ripe apples.

James Oppenheim (1882-1932)
from War and Laughter, 1916

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

Saturday, October 13, 2018

October Afternoon in Dublin /
Mary Devenport O'Neill

October Afternoon in Dublin

The wet roads were like pewter bands;
The hilltops had a hard wet line;
There was no sign
Of warmth but in the fresh-lit lamps,
Although the driving rain
Was done at last;
One seemed to see
As well as hear the wind –
Watching the clouds and trees
And the cold crouching people hurrying past.

Mary Devenport O'Neill (1879-1967)
from Prometheus, and other poems, 1929

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Mary Devenport O'Neill biography

Sunday, October 7, 2018

An Autumnal Thought / Adam Hood Burwell

An Autumnal Thought

Sadly blows the rushing gale,
          Sadly roars the foaming stream,
Languid looks the faded vale,
          Pale, and faint Sol’s beam.

Varied hues the mountain’s side
          Gives to the spectator’s eye;
All its beauty, all its pride,
          Soon shall wither, soon shall die.

Soon the elm’s gay summer robe,
          Yielding to th’ autumnal blast,
Soon the poplar’s sylvan dress,
          Verdant, coverings, will be cast.

Winter gathering in the North,
          Now invades th’ ethereal plain,
Calls his cold attendants forth,
          Blasting winds, and sleet, and rain.

Nature holds the gloomy pall
          That must shroud the closing year;
Shuts the scene, and lets fall
          O’er its tomb a frozen tear.

Such is man! his bloom decays;
          Life’s pale autumn soon draws near;
Death his glory prostrate lays,
          And rounds the winter of his year.

Adam Hood Burwell (1790-1849)
from the Montreal Scribbler, November 1821

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Adam Hood Burwell biography

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Autumn / Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The Autumn

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
    And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
    Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
    The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
    Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
    May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
    Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
    You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
    Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
    That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
    When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
    When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
    When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, —
    Their presence may be o’er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
    That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
    Which once refresh’d our mind,
Shall come — as, on those sighing woods,
    The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind — view not the woods;
    Look out o’er vale and hill —
In spring, the sky encircled them —
    The sky is round them still.
Come autumn’s scathe — come winter’s cold —
    Come change — and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
    Can ne’er be desolate.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
from Poetical Works, from 1826 to 1844, 1887

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Elizabeth Barrett Browning biography

Monday, October 1, 2018

Penny's Top 20 / September 2018

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

  1.  The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens
  2.  The Bright Extensive Will, AE Reiff
  3.  As imperceptibly as Grief, Emily Dickinson
  4.  Wonderful World, William Brighty Rands
  5.  Season's End, Raymond Holden
  6.  The New Year, Emma Lazarus
  7.  A Summer Night, Elizabeth Drew Stoddard
  8.  Summer Night, Langston Hughes
  9.  Tripping down the field-path, Charles Swain

10.  I Have a Rendezvous with Death, Alan Seeger

11.  After Summer, Philip Bourke Marston
12.  September, Ethelwyn Wetherald
13.  Autumn, Frances Browne
14.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
15.  Envoy, Richard Dowson
16.  Card Game, Frank Prewett 
17.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
18.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
19.  A Song for September, Thomas William Parsons
20.  The Conjurer, George J. Dance

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Tripping down the field-path / Charles Swain

Tripping down the field-path

Tripping down the field-path,
  Early in the morn,
There I met my own love
  ’Midst the golden corn;
Autumn winds were blowing,
  As in frolic chase,
All her silken ringlets
  Backward from her face;
Little time for speaking
  Had she, for the wind,
Bonnet, scarf, or ribbon,
  Ever swept behind.

Still some sweet improvement
  In her beauty shone;
Every graceful movement      
  Won me,— one by one!
As the breath of Venus
  Seemed the breeze of morn,
Blowing thus between us,
  ’Midst the golden corn.
Little time for wooing
  Had we, for the wind
Still kept on undoing
  What we sought to bind.

Oh! that autumn morning
  In my heart it beams,
Love’s last look adorning
  With its dream of dreams:
Still, like waters flowing
  In the ocean shell,
Sounds of breezes blowing
  In my spirit dwell;
Still I see the field-path;—
  Would that I could see
Her whose graceful beauty
  Lost is now to me!

Charles Swain (1801-1874)
from Songs and Ballads, 1867

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Charles Swain biography

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Autumn / Frances Browne


Oh, welcome to the corn-clad slope,
     And to the laden tree,
Thou promised autumn - for the hope
     Of nations turn'd to thee,
Through all the hours of splendour past,
     With summer's bright career -
And we see thee on thy throne at last,
     Crown'd monarch of the year!

Thou comest with gorgeous flowers
     That make the roses dim,
With morning mists and sunny hours
     And wild birds' harvest hymn;
Thou comest with the might of floods,
     The glow of moonlit skies,
And the glory flung on fading woods
     Of thousand mingled dyes!

But never seem'd thy steps so bright
     On Europe's ancient shore,
Since faded from the poet's sight
     That golden age of yore;
For early harvest-home hath pour'd
     Its gladness on the earth,
And the joy that lights the princely board
     Hath reach'd the peasant's hearth.

O Thou, whose silent bounty flows
     To bless the sower's art,
With gifts that ever claim from us
     The harvests of the heart -
If thus Thy goodness crown the year,
     What shall the glory be,
When all Thy harvest, whitening here,
     Is gather'd home to Thee!

Frances Browne (1816-1879)
from Lyrics, and miscellaneous poems, 1848

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Frances Browne biography

Sunday, September 23, 2018

September / Ethelwyn Wetherald


But yesterday all faint for breath,
     The Summer laid her down to die;
And now her frail ghost wandereth
     In every breeze that loiters by.
Her wilted prisoners look up,
    As wondering who hath broke their chain.
Too deep they drank of summer’s cup,
     They have no strength to rise again.

How swift the trees, their mistress gone,
     Enrobe themselves for revelry!
Ungovernable winds upon
     The wold are dancing merrily.
With crimson fruits and bursting nuts,
     And whirling leaves and flushing streams,
The spirit of September cuts
     Adrift from August’s languid dreams.

A little while the revelers
     Shall flame and flaunt and have their day,
And then will come the messengers
     Who travel on a cloudy way.
And after them a form of light,
     A sense of iron in the air,
Upon the pulse a touch of might
     And winter’s legions everywhere.

Ethelwyn Wetherald (1857-1940)
from The House of the Trees, and other poems, 1895

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

Ethelwyn Wetherald biography

Saturday, September 22, 2018

After Summer / Philip Bourke Marston

After Summer

We ’ll not weep for summer over —
        No, not we:
Strew above his head the clover,—
        Let him be!

Other eyes may weep his dying,      
        Shed their tears
There upon him, where he’s lying
        With his peers.

Unto some of them he proffer’d
        Gifts most sweet;      
For our hearts a grave he offer’d,—
        Was this meet?

All our fond hopes, praying, perish’d
        In his wrath,—
All the lovely dreams we cherish’d      
        Strew’d his path.

Shall we in our tombs, I wonder,
        Far apart,
Sunder’d wide as seas can sunder
        Heart from heart,      

Dream at all of all the sorrows
        That were ours,—
Bitter nights, more bitter morrows;

Summer gather’d, as in madness,      
        Saying, "See,
These are yours, in place of gladness,—
        Gifts from me"?

Nay, the rest that will be ours
        Is supreme,      
And below the poppy flowers
        Steals no dream.

Philip Bourke Marston (1850-1887)
from A Last Harvest, 1891

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Philip Bourke Marston biography

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Summer Night / Langston Hughes

Summer Night

The sounds
Of the Harlem night
Drop one by one into stillness.
The last player-piano is closed.
The last victrola ceases with the
" Jazz Boy Blues. "
The last crying baby sleeps
And the night becomes
Still as a whispering heartbeat.
I toss
Without rest in the darkness,
Weary as the tired night,
My soul
Empty as the silence,
Empty with a vague,
Aching emptiness,
Needing someone,

I toss without rest
In the darkness
Until the new dawn,
Wan and pale,
Descends like a white mist
Into the court-yard.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
from The Crisis, December 1925

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Langston Hughes biography

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Season's End / Raymond Holden

Season's End

This is the end of the Summer.
This is the end of all.
The sap is running back into earth
And the red leaves shudder and fall.

If I could shake myself down
From the stem that has ceased to flow,
Would there be a cool dark earth to close
Round the things I have come to know?

Raymond Holden (1894-1972)
from Granite and Alabaster, 1922

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

Raymond Holden biography

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The New Year / Emma Lazarus

The New Year

                      Rosh-Hashanah, 5643

Not while the snow-shroud round dead earth is rolled,
      And naked branches point to frozen skies.—
When orchards burn their lamps of fiery gold,
      The grape glows like a jewel, and the corn
A sea of beauty and abundance lies,
                      Then the new year is born.

Look where the mother of the months uplifts
      In the green clearness of the unsunned West,
Her ivory horn of plenty, dropping gifts,
      Cool, harvest-feeding dews, fine-winnowed light;
Tired labor with fruition, joy and rest
                      Profusely to requite.

Blow, Israel, the sacred cornet! Call
      Back to thy courts whatever faint heart throb
With thine ancestral blood, thy need craves all.
      The red, dark year is dead, the year just born
Leads on from anguish wrought by priest and mob,
                      To what undreamed-of morn?

For never yet, since on the holy height,
      The Temple’s marble walls of white and green
Carved like the sea-waves, fell, and the world’s light
      Went out in darkness,—never was the year
Greater with portent and with promise seen,
                      Than this eve now and here.

Even as the Prophet promised, so your tent
      Hath been enlarged unto earth’s farthest rim.
To snow-capped Sierras from vast steppes ye went,
      Through fire and blood and tempest-tossing wave,
For freedom to proclaim and worship Him,
                      Mighty to slay and save.

High above flood and fire ye held the scroll,
      Out of the depths ye published still the Word.
No bodily pang had power to swerve your soul:
      Ye, in a cynic age of crumbling faiths,
Lived to bear witness to the living Lord,
                      Or died a thousand deaths.

In two divided streams the exiles part,
      One rolling homeward to its ancient source,
One rushing sunward with fresh will, new heart.
      By each the truth is spread, the law unfurled,
Each separate soul contains the nation’s force,
                      And both embrace the world.

Kindle the silver candle’s seven rays,
      Offer the first fruits of the clustered bowers,
The garnered spoil of bees. With prayer and praise
      Rejoice that once more tried, once more we prove
How strength of supreme suffering still is ours
                      For Truth and Law and Love.

Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)
from Poems, 1888

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Emma Lazarus biography

Saturday, September 8, 2018

As impercepibly as Grief / Emily Dickinson

As imperceptibly as Grief
The Summer lapsed away —
Too imperceptible, at last
To seem like Perfidy —

A Quietness distilled
As Twilight long begun
Or Nature spending with herself
Sequestered Afternoon —

The Dusk drew earlier in —
The Morning foreign shone —
A courteous, yet harrowing Grace
As Guest that would be gone —

And thus without a Wing
Or service of a Keel
Our Summer made her light escape
Into the Beautiful

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Sunday, September 2, 2018

A Summer Night / Elizabeth Drew Stoddard

A Summer Night

I feel the breath of the summer night,
      Aromatic fire;
The trees, the vines, the flowers are astir
      With tender desire.

The white moths flutter about the lamp,
      Enamored with light;
And a thousand creatures softly sing
      A song to the night.

But I am alone, and how can I sing
      Praises to thee?      
Come, Night! unveil the beautiful soul
      That waiteth for me.

Elizabeth Drew Stoddard (1823-1902)
from Poems, 1859

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Wonderful World / William Brighty Rands

Great, wide, beautiful, wonderful World

Great, wide, beautiful, wonderful World!
With the wonderful water round you curl’d,
And the wonderful grass upon your breast —
World, you are beautifully drest.

The wonderful air is over me,     
And the wonderful wind is shaking the tree;
It walks on the water, and whirls the mills,
And talks to itself on the tops of the hills.

You friendly Earth! how far do you go,
With the wheatfields that nod, and the rivers that flow,     
With cities and gardens and cliffs and isles,
And people upon you for thousands of miles?

Ah, you are so great, and I am so small,
I tremble to think of you, World, at all!
And yet, when I said my prayers to-day,     
A whisper inside me seem’d to say—

‘You are more than the Earth, tho’ you are such a dot:
You can love and think, and the Earth cannot!’

William Brighty Rands (1823-1882)
from Good Words for the Young, December 1868

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Penny's Top 20 / August 2018

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

  1.  To the Sea Angel, Will Dockery
  2.  The Ocean, Nathaniel Hawthorne
  3.  The Diver, W.W.E. Ross
  4.  August, E. Nesbit
  5.  The Pool, Marjorie Pickthall
  6.  Daysleepers, George J. Dance
  7.  Sea Gulls, Jeanette Marks
  8.  Heat, H.D.
  9.  August, Algernon Charles Swinburne

Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens

11.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance  
12.  I love to see the summer beaming forth, John Clare
13.  May, Christina Rossetti
14.  A Christmas Greeting, Walt Whitman
15.  The Poet's Hat, Robert Fuller Murray
16.  When Summer Comes, Sophia Almon Hensley
17.  Vowels, Arthur Rimbaud
18.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
19.  The Bright Extensive Will, AE Reiff
20.  Impression: Le Reveillon, Oscar Wilde

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, August 26, 2018

August / Algernon Charles Swinburne


There were four apples on the bough,
Half gold half red, that one might know
The blood was ripe inside the core;
The colour of the leaves was more
Like stems of yellow corn that grow
Through all the gold June meadow’s floor.

The warm smell of the fruit was good
To feed on, and the split green wood,
With all its bearded lips and stains
Of mosses in the cloven veins,
Most pleasant, if one lay or stood
In sunshine or in happy rains.

There were four apples on the tree,
Red stained through gold, that all might see
The sun went warm from core to rind;
The green leaves made the summer blind
In that soft place they kept for me
With golden apples shut behind.

The leaves caught gold across the sun,
And where the bluest air begun,
Thirsted for song to help the heat;
As I to feel my lady’s feet
Draw close before the day were done;
Both lips grew dry with dreams of it.

In the mute August afternoon
They trembled to some undertune
Of music in the silver air;
Great pleasure was it to be there
Till green turned duskier and the moon
Coloured the corn-sheaves like gold hair.

That August time it was delight
To watch the red moons wane to white
’Twixt grey seamed stems of apple-trees;
A sense of heavy harmonies
Grew on the growth of patient night,
More sweet than shapen music is.

But some three hours before the moon
The air, still eager from the noon,
Flagged after heat, not wholly dead;
Against the stem I leant my head;
The colour soothed me like a tune,
Green leaves all round the gold and red.

I lay there till the warm smell grew
More sharp, when flecks of yellow dew
Between the round ripe leaves had blurred
The rind with stain and wet; I heard
A wind that blew and breathed and blew,
Too weak to alter its one word.

The wet leaves next the gentle fruit
Felt smoother, and the brown tree-root
Felt the mould warmer: I too felt
(As water feels the slow gold melt
Right through it when the day burns mute)
The peace of time wherein love dwelt.

There were four apples on the tree,
Gold stained on red that all might see
The sweet blood filled them to the core:
The colour of her hair is more
Like stems of fair faint gold, that be
Mown from the harvest’s middle floor.

Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)
from Poems and Ballads, 1866

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Algernon Charles Swinburne biography

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Heat / H.D.

from Garden


O wind, rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters.

Fruit cannot drop
through this thick air —
fruit cannot fall into heat
that presses up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes.

Cut the heat —
plough through it,
turning it on either side
of your path.

H.D. (1886-1961)
from Sea Garden, 1916

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

H.D. biography

Sunday, August 19, 2018

August / E. Nesbit


Leave me alone, for August's sleepy charm
     Is on me, and I will not break the spell;
My head is on the mighty Mother's arm:
     I will not ask if life goes ill or well.
There is no world! – I do not care to know
Whence aught has come, nor whither it shall go.

I want to wander over pastures still,
     Where sheared white sheep and mild-eyed cattle graze;
To climb the thymy, clover-covered hill,
     To look down on the valley's hot blue haze;
And on the short brown turf for hours to lie
Gazing straight up into the clear, deep sky,

I want to walk through crisp gold harvest fields,
     Through meadows yellowed by the August heat;
To loiter through the cool dim wood, that yields
     Such perfect flowers and quiet so complete –
The happy woods, where every bud and leaf
Is full of dreams as life is full of grief.

I want to think no more of all the pain
     That in the city thrives, a poison flower –
The eternal loss, the never-coming gain,
     The lifelong woe – the joy that lives an hour,
Bright, evanescent as the dew that dawn
Shows on this silent, wood-encircled lawn.

I want to pull the honey-bud that twines
     About the blackberries and gold-leaf sloes;
To part the boughs where the rare water shines,
     Tread the soft bank whereby the bulrush grows –
I want to be no more myself, but be
Made one with all the beauty that I see.

Oh, happy country, myriad voiced and dear,
     I have no heart, no eyes, except for you;
Yours are the only voices I will hear,
     Yours is the only bidding I will do:
You bid me be at peace, and let alone
That loud, rough world where peace is never known.

Yet through your voices comes a sterner cry,
     A voice I cannot silence if I would;
It mars the song the lark sings to the sky,
     It breaks the changeful music of the wood.
'Back to your post – a charge you have to keep –
Freedom is bleeding while her soldiers sleep.'

Oh, heart of mine I have to carry here,
     Will you not let me rest a little while? –
A space 'mid doubtful fight and doubtful fear –
     A little space to see the Mother's smile,
To stretch my hands out to her, and possess
No sense of aught but of her loveliness?

Ah, just this power to feel how she is fair
     Means just the power to see how foul life is.
How can I linger in the sacred air
     And taste the pure wine of the dear sun's kiss
When in the outer dark my brothers moan,
Nor even guess the joys that I have known?

Back the least soldier goes! To jar and fret,
     To hope uncrowned – faith tried – love wounded sore –
To prayers that never have been answered yet,
     To dreams that must be dreams for evermore;
To all that, after all, is far more dear
Than all the joys of all the changing year.

E. Nesbit (1858-1924)
from Lays and Legends, 1886

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

E. Nesbit biography

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Pool / Marjorie Pickthall

The Pool

Come with me, follow me, swift as a moth,
Ere the wood-doves waken.
Lift the long leaves and look down, look down
Where the light is shaken,
Amber and brown,
On the woven ivory roots of the reed,
On a floating flower and a weft of weed
And a feather of froth.

Here in the night all wonders are,
Lapped in the lift of the ripple's swing,–
A silver shell and a shaken star,
And a white moth's wing.
Here the young moon when the mists unclose
Swims like the bud of a golden rose.

I would live like an elf where the wild grapes cling,
I would chase the thrush
From the red rose-berries.
All the day long I would laugh and swing
With the black choke-cherries.

I would shake the bees from the milkweed blooms,
And cool, O cool,
Night after night I would leap in the pool,
And sleep with the fish in the roots of the rush.
Clear, O clear my dreams should be made
Of emerald light and amber shade,
Of silver shallows and golden glooms.
Sweet, O sweet my dreams should be
As the dark, sweet water enfolding me
Safe as a blind shell under the sea.

Marjorie Pickthall (1883-1922)
from The Drift of Pinions, 1913

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

Marjorie Pickthall biography

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Diver / W.W.E. Ross

The Diver

I would like to dive
Into this still pool
Where the rocks at the bottom are safely deep,

Into the green
Of the water seen from within,
A strange light
Streaming past my eyes –

Things hostile;
You cannot stay here, they seem to say;
The rocks, slime covered, the undulating
Fronds of weed –

And drift slowly
Among the cooler zones;
Then, upward turning,
Break from the green glimmer

Into the light,
White and ordinary of the day;
And the mild air,
With the breeze and the comfortable shore.

W.W.E. Ross (1894-1966)
from Laconics, 1930

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

W.W.E. Ross biography

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Ocean / Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Ocean

The Ocean has its silent caves,
Deep, quiet, and alone;
Though there be fury on the waves,
Beneath them there is none.

The awful spirits of the deep
Hold their communion there;
And there are those for whom we weep,
The young, the bright, the fair.

Calmly the wearied seamen rest
Beneath their own blue sea.
The ocean solitudes are blest,
For there is purity.

The earth has guilt, the earth has care,
Unquiet are its graves;
But peaceful sleep is ever there,
Beneath the dark blue waves.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
from The Mariner's Library; or, Voyager's companion, 1833

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Nathaniel Hawthorne biography

Sunday, August 5, 2018

To the Sea Angel / Will Dockery

To the Sea Angel

Riptide waves,
there goes the sea angel,
right above the waves.

These mystery years,
where would I be without them?
What if I'd stayed happy?

Years lost,
these last few I've played catch up,
drifting from the shore.

Barnacles on an olive shell,
brain choral in my mind.

Instrumental tune,
made by the incoming waves.

I tossed a starfish back in,
watched it twirl away,
and thought of you.

Will Dockery 

[All rights reserved - used with permission]

Will Dockery biography

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Sea Gulls / Jeanette Marks

Sea Gulls

On Leaving Eggemoggin

Sea gulls I saw lifting the dawn with rosy feet,
Bearing the sunlight on their wings,
Dripping the dusk from burnished plumes;
And I thought
It would be a joy to be a sea gull
At dusk, at dawn of way,
And through long sunlit hours.

Sea gulls I saw carrying the night on their backs,
Wide tail spread crescent for the moon and stars –
The moon a glowing jelly fish,
The stars foam flecks of light;
And I thought
It would be joy to be a sea gull!

How I would dart with them,
Strike storm with coral spur,
Rip whirling spray of angry tides,
Snatch mangled, light-shot offal of the sea,–
Torn, tossed, and moving terribly;
And stare for stare anser those myriad eyes
That float and sway, stab, sting, and die away!

How I would peer from wide cold eyes of fire –
At dusk, at dawn
And through the long daylight –
Into those coiling depths of sea;
Then split the sun, the moon, the stars,
With laughter, laughter, laughter,
For the sea's mad power!

Jeanette Marks (1874-1964)
from Willow Pollen, 1921

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

Jeanette Marks biography

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Penny's Top 20 / July 2018

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

  1.  Breeze, Ilya Shambat
  2.  When the World is Burning, Ebenezer Jones
  3.  Inniskeen Road: July Evening, Patrick Kavanagh
  4.  Cuckoo Song
  5.  Christ Walks in this Infernal District Too, Malcolm Lowry
  6.  Summer 1924, Mary Devenport O'Neill
  7.  A Summer's Night, Paul Laurence Dunbar
  8.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  9.  I love to see the summer beaming forth, John Clare

10.  When Summer Comes, Sophia Almon Hensley

11.  Unwelcome, Mary Elizabeth Coleridge
12.  Daysleepers, George J. Dance
13.  The Flute of Spring, Bliss Carman
14.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance  
15.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
16.  Vowels, Arthur Rimbaud
17.  A Christmas Greeting, Walt Whitman
18.  The Bright Extensive Will, AE Reiff
19.  May, Christina Rossetti
20.  Cherry-Ripe, Robert Herrick

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Sunday, July 29, 2018

I love to see the summer beaming forth / John Clare


I love to see the summer beaming forth
And white wool sack clouds sailing to the north
I love to see the wild flowers come again
And Mare blobs stain with gold the meadow drain
And water lilies whiten on the floods
Where reed clumps rustle like a wind shook wood
Where from her hiding place the Moor Hen pushes
And seeks her flag nest floating in bull rushes
I like the willow leaning half way o'er
The clear deep lake to stand upon its shore
I love the hay grass when the flower head swings
To summer winds and insects happy wings
That sport about the meadow the bright day
And see bright beetles in the clear lake play

John Clare (1793-1864), 1841

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Clare biography

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Unwelcome / Mary Elizabeth Coleridge


We were young, we were merry, we were very very wise,
And the door stood open at our feast,
When there passed us a woman with the West in her eyes,
And a man with his back to the East.

Oh, still grew the hearts that were beating so fast,
The loudest voice was still,
The jest died away on our lips as they passed,
And the rays of July struck chill.

The cups of red wine turned pale on the board,
The white bread black as soot,
The hound forgot the hand of her lord,
She fell down at his foot.

Low let me lie, where the dead dog lies,
Ere I sit me down again at a feast,
When there passes a woman with the West in her eyes,
And a man with his back to the East.

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge (1861-1907)
from Poems, 1907

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Inniskeen Road: July Evening / Patrick Kavanagh

Inniskeen Road: July Evening

The bicycles go by in twos and threes –
There's a dance in Billy Brennan's barn tonight,
And there's the half-talk code of mysteries
And the wink-and-elbow language of delight.
Half-past eight and there is not a spot
Upon a mile of road, no shadow thrown
That might turn out a man or woman, not
A footfall tapping secrecies of stone.

I have what every poet hates in spite
Of all the solemn talk of contemplation.
Oh, Alexander Selkirk knew the plight
Of being king and government and nation.
A road, a mile of kingdom. I am king
Of banks and stones and every blooming thing.

Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967)
from Ploughman, and other poems, 1936

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Patrick Kavanagh biography

Saturday, July 21, 2018

A Summer's Night / Paul Laurence Dunbar

A Summer's Night

The night is dewy as a maiden's mouth,
The skies are bright as are a maiden's eyes,
Soft as a maiden's breath, the wind that flies
Up from the perfumed bosom of the South.

Like sentinels, the pines stand in the park;
And hither hastening like rakes that roam,
With lamps to light their wayward footsteps home,
The fire-flies come stagg'ring down the dark.

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
from Lyrics of Lowly Life, 1896

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Paul Laurence Dunbar biography

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Breeze / Ilya Shambat


So much the sweetness and softness of air
Breathe lightly upon me I cannot speak.
Your soul is a summer wind
Sprinkled with petals and feathers
Running through forests and meadows
Running through caverns and rapids
Running through mountains and deserts
Carrying sunlight
Carrying pollen
Carrying raindrops
And carrying love into hearts.
Breathe lightly my love
I can only feel you
Wafting across me
Rubbing against me
Flying around me
Enfolding, caressing my heart.
Bring me the world
Sweet breeze
Bring me world by the molecule
Bring me the top of the atmosphere
Bring me the bloom of the rainforest
Bring me the salt of the ocean
The wind and the rain making love under glancing moon.
Play, play with my flames
Sweet breeze
Send sparks flying
Let my fulminations become
A tapestry shining and tearing
And reaching for you
Carry me through the mind of humanity
Carry me to the soul of eternity
Carry me all around the globe
And together we'll drape it in love.

Ilya Shambat (born 1975)
from Words and Pictures, 2003

[All rights reserved - used with permission]

Ilya Shambat biography

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Cuckoo Song

Cuckoo Song

Sumer is icumen in,
  Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweth sed, and bloweth med,
  And springth the wude nu —
          Sing cuccu!    

Awe bleteth after lomb,
  Lhouth after calve cu;
Bulluc sterteth, bucke verteth,
  Murie sing cuccu!

Cuccu, cuccu, well singes thu, cuccu:
  Ne swike thu naver nu;
Sing cuccu, nu, sing cuccu,
  Sing cuccu, sing cuccu, nu!

Anonymous, circa 1250
from the Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900, 1919

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Sunday, July 8, 2018

When the World is Burning / Ebenezer Jones

When the World is Burning

When the world is burning,
Fired within, yet turning
  Round with face unscathed;
Ere fierce flames, uprushing,
O'er all lands leap, crushing,    
  Till earth fall, fire-swathed;
Up amidst the meadows,
Gently through the shadows,
  Gentle flames will glide,
Small, and blue, and golden.
Though by bard beholden,
When in calm dreams folden,—
  Calm his dreams will bide.

Where the dance is sweeping,
Through the greensward peeping,
  Shall the soft lights start;
Laughing maids, unstaying,
Deeming it trick-playing,
High their robes upswaying,
  O'er the lights shall dart;
And the woodland haunter
Shall not cease to saunter
  When, far down some glade,
Of the great world's burning,
One soft flame upturning
Seems, to his discerning,
  Crocus in the shade.

Ebenezer Jones (1820-1860)
from the Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900, 1919

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Ebenezer Jones biography

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Summer 1924 / Mary Devenport O'Neill

Summer 1924

Rain and hazy squirted light,
Dampness and the fat green trees,
Sleepily I read this book
Open on my knees –
’Who of the Nymphs divine
That haunt Olympus height,
Who, then, will tell me, who?’
Above the square five seagulls fly,
Like Cassiopeia, black on a white sky,
The afternoon wears on –
’Toil upon toil brings toil;
Whither, ah, whither,
Whither have I not gone?’

Mary Devenport O'Neill (1879-1967)
from Prometheus, and other poems, 1929

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Mary Devenport O'Neill biography

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Christ Walks in this Infernal District Too /
Malcolm Lowry

Christ Walks in this Infernal District Too

Beneath the Malebolge lies Hastings Street,
The province of the pimp upon his beat,
Where each in his little world of drugs or crime
Moves helplessly or, hopeful, begs a dime
Wherewith to purchase half a pint of piss –
Although he will be cheated, even in this.
I hope, although I doubt it, God knows
This place where chancres blossom like the rose,
For on each face is such a hard despair
That nothing like a grief could enter there.
And on this scene from all excuse exempt,
The mountains gaze in absolute contempt,
Yet this is also Canada, my friend,
Yours to absolve of ruin, or make an end.

Malcolm Lowry (1909-1957)
from Tamarack Review, 1961

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Malcolm Lowry biography

Penny's Top 20 / June 2018

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

  1.  Daysleepers, George J. Dance
  2.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  3.  Written at the close of Spring, Charlotte Turner Smith
  4.  Advice to a Butterfly, Maxwell Bodenheim
  5.  O moon, large golden summer moon, Mathilde Blind
  6.  The Parterre, E.H. Palmer
  7.  Lunar Baedeker, Mina Loy
  8.  June Apples, Ethelwyn Wetherald
The Conjurer, George J. Dance
10.  A Spring Idyll, Patrick MacGill

11.  A Memory of June, Claude McKay
12.  To Spring, Robert Story
13.  To the Moon, Percy Bysshe Shelley
14.  Card Game, Frank Prewett
15.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
16.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance  
17.  Three Thousand Miles, Louis MacNeice
18.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
19.  It's September, Edgar Guest
20.  November, Robert Frost

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Saturday, June 30, 2018

O moon, large golden summer moon /
Mathilde Blind

from Love in Exile:


O moon, large golden summer moon,
    Hanging between the linden trees,
    Which in the intermittent breeze
Beat with the rhythmic pulse of June!

O night-air, scented through and through
    With honey-coloured flower of lime,
    Sweet now as in that other time
When all my heart was sweet as you!

The sorcery of this breathing bloom
    Works like enchantment in my brain,
    Till, shuddering back to life again,
My dead self rises from its tomb.

And, lovely with the love of yore,
    Its white ghost haunts the moon-white ways;
    But, when it meets me face to face,
Flies trembling to the grave once more.

Mathilde Blind (1841-1896)
from Songs and Sonnets, 1893

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Mathilde Blind biography

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Lunar Baedeker / Mina Loy

Lunar Baedeker

A silver Lucifer
cocaine in cornucopia

To some somnambulists
of adolescent thighs
in satirical draperies

Peris in livery
for posthumous parvenues

Delirious Avenues
with the chandelier souls
of infusoria
from Pharoah’s tombstones

to mercurial doomsdays
Odious oasis
in furrowed phosphorous

the eye-white sky-light
white-light district
of lunar lusts

             Stellectric signs
“Wing shows on Starway”
“Zodiac carrousel”

of ecstatic dust
and ashes whirl
from hallucinatory citadels
of shattered glass
into evacuate craters

A flock of dreams
browse on Necropolis

From the shores
of oval oceans
in the oxidized Orient

Onyx-eyed Odalisques
and ornithologists
the flight
of Eros obsolete

And “Immortality”
mildews ...
in the museums of the moon

“Nocturnal cyclops”
“Crystal concubine”

Pocked with personification
the fossil virgin of the skies
waxes and wanes

Mina Loy (1882-1966)
from Lunar Baedecker, 1923

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Saturday, June 23, 2018

To the Moon / Percy Bysshe Shelley

To the Moon 

          Art thou pale for weariness?
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
          Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,–
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
from Posthumous Poems, 1824

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Daysleepers / George J. Dance


Somewhere a violated auto
shrieks a one-note alarm
in brilliant sunshine;
the poet rolls over,
wills himself to sleep.

The long-haired blonde
sprawled naked at his feet
is clearly winning
this sleep-competition,
tail and paws perfectly still.

atop the bookcase
a fat ball
of tri-coloured fur

warms up
for the next round

George J. Dance, 2007
from Doggerel and other doggerel, 2015

Rest in peace, Medya, 1999-2018

Photo by Maureen Dance, 2018.

[All rights reserved - used with permission]

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Written at the close of Spring /
Charlotte Turner Smith

Written at the close of Spring

The garlands fade that Spring so lately wove,
  Each simple flower which she has nurs’d in dew,
Anemones, that spangled every grove,
  The primrose wan, and harebell mildly blue.
No more shall violets linger in the dell,
  Or purple orchis variegate the plain,
Till Spring again shall call forth every bell
  And dress with hurried hands her wreaths again.
Ah, poor humanity! so frail, so fair,
  And the fond visions of thy early day,
Till tyrant passion and corrosive care
  Bid all thy fairy colours flee away!
Another May new birds and flowers shall bring;
Ah! why has happiness no second spring?

Charlotte Turner Smith (1749-1806)
from Elegaic Sonnets, 1784

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Charlotte Turner Smith biography

Saturday, June 16, 2018

To Spring / Robert Story

To Spring

O what a bloom, a freshness — as of flowers
And verdure bathed in dew — comes o'er the heart,
Sweet Spring, when thou art named;
Or when thy softened breeze,

Pure from reviving nature, fans the cheek!
The languid spirit feels, through all its depths,
The genial warmth, and pours
Profuse its flowers of thought!

Who can thy charms enumerate? The dell,
Where the rathe primrose peeps; the living wood,
Where the green bud just bursts,
And the deep blackbird sings;

The plain, where smiles the daisy, where its gold
The gorgeous king-cup shows, and where the stream
Rolls in blue windings on;
The freshened mountain, gay

With springing heath and blooming gorse, o'er which
The plover screams; and over all, the sky
Blue, lofty fine, where laughs
The joyous sun, and where

Sails the light snowy cloud, or — if the shower
Thin-glancing falls — perchance the rainbow bends
Its scarcely visible arch,
Whence rings the sky-lark's song!

The eye looks round delighted, the heart beats
With rapture! — And do I experience now
That rapture, that delight?
Then, shall my song confine

Its praise to Earth's enchantments, nor ascend
In grateful adoration, God! to thee—
The source of all that's fair,
The bounteous source of Spring!

Robert Story (1795-1860)
from The Magic Fountain, and other poems, 1819

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Robert Story biography