Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Brook in February / Charles G.D. Roberts

The Brook in February

A snowy path for squirrel and fox,
    It winds between the wintry firs.
Snow-muffled are its iron rocks,
    And o’er its stillness nothing stirs.

But low, bend low a listening ear!
    Beneath the mask of moveless white
A babbling whisper you shall hear
    Of birds and blossoms, leaves and light.

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

Saturday, February 24, 2018

February / William Morris


Noon — and the north-west sweeps the empty road,
The rain-washed fields from hedge to hedge are bare;
Beneath the leafless elms some hind’s abode
Looks small and void, and no smoke meets the air
From its poor hearth: one lonely rook doth dare
The gale, and beats above the unseen corn,
Then turns, and whirling down the wind is borne.
Shall it not hap that on some dawn of May
Thou shalt awake, and, thinking of days dead,
See nothing clear but this same dreary day,
Of all the days that have passed o’er thine head?
Shalt thou not wonder, looking from thy bed,
Through green leaves on the windless east a-fire,
That this day too thine heart doth still desire?
Shalt thou not wonder that it liveth yet,
The useless hope, the useless craving pain,
That made thy face, that lonely noontide, wet
With more than beating of the chilly rain?
Shalt thou not hope for joy new born again,
Since no grief ever born can ever die
Through changeless change of seasons passing by?

The change has come at last, and from the west
Drives on the wind, and gives the clouds no rest,
And ruffles up the water thin that lies
Over the surface of the thawing ice;
Sunrise and sunset with no glorious show
Are seen, as late they were across the snow;
The wet-lipped west wind chilleth to the bone
More than the light and flickering east hath done.
Full soberly the earth’s fresh hope begins,
Nor stays to think of what each new day wins:
And still it seems to bid us turn away
From this chill thaw to dream of blossomed May:
E’en as some hapless lover’s dull shame sinks
Away sometimes in day-dreams, and he thinks
No more of yesterday’s disgrace and foil,
No more he thinks of all the sickening toil
Of piling straw on straw to reach the sky;
But rather now a pitying face draws nigh,
Mid tears and prayers for pardon; and a tale
To make love tenderer now is all the bale
Love brought him erst.
                                               But on this chill dank tide
Still are the old men by the fireside,
And all things cheerful round the day just done
Shut out the memory of the cloud-drowned sun,
And dripping bough and blotched and snow-soaked earth;
And little as the tide seemed made for mirth,
Scarcely they lacked it less than months agone,
When on their wrinkles bright the great sun shone;
Rather, perchance, less pensive now they were,
And meeter for that cause old tales to hear
Of stirring deeds long dead:
                                                      So, as it fell,
Preluding nought, an elder ’gan to tell
The story promised in mid-winter days
Of all that latter end of bliss and praise
That erst befell Bellerophon the bright,
Ere all except his name sank into night.

William Morris (1834-1896)
from The Earthly Paradise, 1870

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

William Morris biography

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Ode to Sport / Pierre de Coubertin (1)

Ode to Sport


O Sport, pleasure of the Gods, essence of life, you appeared suddenly in the midst of the grey clearing which writhes with the drudgery of modern existence, like the radiant messenger of a past age, when mankind still smiled. And the glimmer of dawn lit up the mountain tops and flecks of light dotted the ground in the gloomy forests.


O Sport, you are Beauty! You are the architect of that edifice which is the human body and which can become abject or sublime according to whether it is defiled by vile passions or improved through healthy exertion. There can be no beauty without balance and proportion, and you are the peerless master of both, for you create harmony, you give movements rhythm, you make strength graceful and you endow suppleness with power.


O Sport, you are Justice! The perfect equity for which men strive in vain in their social institutions is your constant companion. No one can jump a centimetre higher than the height he can jump, nor run a minute longer than the length he can run. The limits of his success are determined solely by his own physical and moral strength.


O Sport, you are Audacity! The meaning of all muscular effort can be summed up in the word ‘dare’. What good are muscles, what is the point of feeling strong and agile, and why work to improve one’s agility and strength, unless it is in order to dare? But the daring you inspire has nothing in common with the adventurer’s recklessness in staking everything on chance. Yours is a prudent, well-considered audacity.

(continued ...)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Ode to Sport / Pierre de Coubertin (2)

O Sport, you are Honour! The laurels you bestow have no value unless they have been won in absolute fairness and with perfect impartiality. He who, with some shameful trick, manages to deceive his fellow competitors feels guilt to his very core and lives in fear of the ignominious epithet which shall forever be attached to his name should his trickery be discovered.


O Sport, you are Joy! At your behest, flesh dances and eyes smile; blood races abundantly through the arteries. Thoughts stretch out on a brighter, clearer horizon. To the sorrowful you can even bring salutary diversion from their distress, whilst the happy you enable fully to savour their joy of living.


 O Sport, you are Fecundity! You strive directly and nobly towards perfection of the race, destroying unhealthy seed and correcting the flaws which threaten its essential purity. And you fill the athlete with a desire to see his sons grow up agile and strong around him to take his place in the arena and, in their turn, carry off the most glorious trophies.


O Sport, you are Progress! To serve you, a man must improve himself both physically and spiritually. You force him to abide by a greater discipline; you demand that he avoid all excess. You teach him wise rules which allow him to exert himself with the maximum of intensity without compromising his good health.


O Sport, you are Peace! You promote happy relations between peoples, bringing them together in their shared devotion to a strength which is controlled, organized and self-disciplined. From you, the young worldwide learn self-respect, and thus the diversity of national qualities becomes the source of a generous and friendly rivalry.

Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937) 
as "Georges Hohrod & M. Eschbach"
Paris Olympics, 1912 

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

Pierre de Coubertin biography

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Because, one night, my soul reached out /
Govinda Krishna Chettur


Because, one night, my soul reached out and found
Yours, in the dim and visionary maze
Of dreams, and Love upon the starry ways:
Because, when, with heart bleeding and eyes bound,
I stumbled to your feet, you raised and crowned
My sorrowing with tears and tender praise:
Because, sometimes men dream of perfect days,
With Death's encircling arms about them wound:
Because of this, because of all of this,
Am I for ever dreaming of sweet hours,
As flowers dream anight of the wind's kiss:
For ever fashioning to Love's demands
This passionate joy, this wonder that is ours,
I that have yearned for the least touch of your hands.

Govinda Krishna Chettur (1898-1936)
from The Triumph of Love: A sonnet sequence, 1932

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

Govinda Krishna Chettur biography

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Song of the Ski / Wilson MacDonald

The Song of the Ski

Norse am I when the first snow falls;
Norse am I till the ice departs.
The fare for which my spirit calls
Is blood from a hundred viking-hearts.
The curved wind wraps me like a cloak;
The pines blow out their ghostly smoke.
I'm high on the hill and ready to go —
A wingless bird in a world of snow:
Yet I'll ride the air
With a dauntless dare
That only a child of the north can know.

The bravest ski has a cautious heart
And moves like a tortoise at the start,
But when it tastes the tang of the air
It leaps away like a frightened hare.
The day is gloomy, the curtains half-drawn,
And light is stunted as at the dawn:
But my foot is sure and my arm is brawn.

I poise on the hill and I wave adieu:
(My curving skis are firm and true)
The slim wood quickens, the air takes fire
And sings to me like a gypsy's lyre.
Swifter and swifter grows my flight:
The dark pines ease the unending white.
The lean, cold birches, as I go by,
Are like blurred etchings against the sky.
One am I for a moment's joy
With the falling star and the plunging bird.
The world is swift as an Arab boy;
The world is sweet as a woman's word.
Never came such a pure delight.
To a bacchanal or a sybarite:
Swifter and swifter grows my flight,
And glad am I, as I near the leap,
That the snow is fresh and the banks are deep.

Swifter and swifter on I fare,
And soon I'll float with the birds on air.
The speed is blinding; I'm over the ridge,
Spanning space on a phantom bridge.
The drifts await me; I float, I fall:
The world leaps up like a lunging carp.
I land erect and the tired winds drawl
A lazy rune on a broken harp.

Child of the roofless world am I;
Not of those hibernating drones
Who fear the gray of a wintry sky
And the shrieking wind's ironic tones,
Who shuffle cards in a cloud of smoke
Or crawl like frozen flies at chess,
Or gossip all day with meddling folk
In collar of starch and a choking dress.

Come, ye maids of the vanity-box,
Come, ye men of the stifling air:
The white wind waits at your door and knocks;
The white snow calls you everywhere.
Come, ye lads of the lounge and chair,
And gird your feet with the valiant skis
And mount the steed of the winter air
And hold the reins of the winter breeze.

Lord of the mountains dark with pine!
Lord of the fields of smoking snow!
Grant to this vagrant heart of mine
A patch of wood where my feet may go,
And a roofless world to my journey's end,
And a cask of wind for my cup of wine,
And yellow gold of the sun to spend,
And at night the stars in endless line,
And, after it all, the hand of a friend —
The hand of a trusted friend in mine.

Wilson MacDonald (1880-1967)
from Out of the Wilderness, 1926

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Wilson MacDonald biography

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Twice a week the winter thorough / A.E. Housman


Twice a week the winter thorough
    Here stood I to keep the goal:
Football then was fighting sorrow
    For the young man's soul.

Now in May time to the wicket
    Out I march with bat and pad:
See the son of grief at cricket
    Trying to be glad.

Try I will; no harm in trying:
    Wonder 'tis how little mirth
Keeps the bones of man from lying
    On the bed of earth.

A.E. Housman (1859-1936)
from A Shropshire Lad, 1896

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

A.E. Housman biography

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Winter Night / John Reed

Winter Night

High hangs the hollow, ringing shield of heaven,
Embossed with stars. The thin air wounds like steel,
Stark and resilient as a Spanish blade.
Sharp snaps the rigid lake's mysterious ice,
And the prim, starchy twigs of naked trees
Crackle metallic in an unfelt wind.
A light-poised Damoclean scimitar
The faintly-damascened pale moon. Benumbed
Shrinks the racked earth gripped in the hand of Cold.
O hark! Swift, anvil-ringing iron hoofs
Drum down the boreal interstellar space:
The Blue Knight rides, spurring his snorting stallion
Out of the dark side of the frozen moon —
Eyes crueller than a beryl-sheathed crevasse,
Breath like the chilly fog of polar seas,
Glaciers for armor on his breast and thighs,
A polished Alp for helmet, and for plume
The league-long Northern Lights behind him floating,
Wave on wave of prismatic blazoning,
Glorious up the sky!
                                         The Blue Knight rides
With his moon-shimmering, star-tipped lance at rest, —
Drives at the world — Crash ! and the brittle globe
Bursts like a crystal goblet, — shivering, falling, —
Shivers, splinters brustling, tinkling, jarring,
Jingling in fading dissonance down the void —
Jangling down the unplumbed void forever.  .  .  .

John Reed (1887-1920),  1906
from Tamberlaine, and other verses, 1917

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

John Reed biography

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Waking in Winter / Sylvia Plath

Waking in Winter

I can taste the tin of the sky – the real tin thing.
Winter dawn is the color of metal,
The trees stiffen into place like burnt nerves.
All night I have dreamed of destruction, annihilations – An assembly-line of cut throats, and you and I
Inching off in the gray Chevrolet, drinking the green
Poison of stilled lawns, the little clapboard gravestones,
Noiseless, on rubber wheels, on the way to the sea resort.

How the balconies echoed! How the sun lit up
The skulls, the unbuckled bones facing the view!
Space! Space! The bed linen was giving out entirely.
Cot legs melted in terrible attitudes, and the nurses –
Each nurse patched her soul to a wound and disappeared.
The deathly guests had not been satisfied
With the rooms, or the smiles, or the beautiful rubber plants,
Or the sea, Hushing their peeled sense like Old Mother Morphia.

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Friday, February 2, 2018

Penny's Top 20 / January 2018

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

  1.  A January Dandelion, George Marion McClellan
  2.  A Wish, Margaret Veley
  3.  A Song for New Year's Eve, William Cullen Bryant
  4.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance  
  5.  Lana Turner has collapsed!, Frank O'Hara
  6.  The First Snowfall, James Russell Lowell
  7.  Three Thousand Miles, Louis MacNeice
  8.  January, Folgore de San Geminiano
  9.  Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost

10.  January, Hilaire Belloc

11.  January 1939, Dylan Thomas
12.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
13.  Winter Love, George J. Dance
14.  Ballade of Summer's Sleep, Archibald Lampman
15.  A Miracle, George J. Dance
16.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
17.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
18.  The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens
19.  Autumn, T.E. Hulme
20.  Puella Parvula, Wallace Stevens

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Penny's Top 100 of 2017

The 100 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during 2012:

  1. The Reader, Wallace Stevens
  2. Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  3. Winterworld Descending, Will Dockery
  4. Easter Evening, James Church Alvord
  5. Penny (or Penny's Hat), George J. Dance

  6. The Branch, AE Reiff
  7. April Madness, Charles Hanson Towne
  8. Easter Ode. Paul Laurence Dunbar
  9. There was a Time, George J. Dance
10. Winter Heavens, George Meredith

11. Evil / Le Mal, Arthur Rimbaud
12. Le Sacre du Printemps, W.J. Turner
13. April Fool's Day, Will E. Cowles
14. A Little Madness in the Spring, Emily Dickinson
15. I So Liked Spring, Charlotte Mew

16. Dirty Spring, Edward Sapir
17. Spring Morning, A.E. Housman
18. March, William Morris
19. The Housewife: Winter Afternoon, Karle Wilson Baker
20. March (O Wind of March), J. Ashby-Sterry

21. March in Tryon, Florence D. Snelling
22. February (Saint Valentine), J. Ashby-Sterry
23. To the Same (Philoclea), Robert Potter
24. Return of Spring, Pierre de Ronsard
25. Awake thou Spring, Thomas Campion

26. To a Fair Young Lady, Going out of Town, John Dryden
27. Canadian Folk-Song, William Wilfred Campbell
28. A Game of Chess, Mortimer Collins
29. Sonnet for the 14th of February, Thomas Hood
30. The Bright Extensive Will, AE Reiff

31. Rondeau: An April Day, W.M. McKeracher
32. April (An April Day), J. Ashby-Sterry
33. October, Margaret Veley
34. Premonition, George J. Dance
35. February in Rome, Edmund Gosse

36. February, Ralph Hodgson
37. Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
38. Six O'Clock, Trumbull Stickey
39. The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens
40. A May Song, Violet Fane

41. For Christmas Day, Charles Wesley
42. Ode, Richard West
43. I would I were the glow-worm, Mathilde Blind
44. May (A Private View), J. Ashby-Sterry
45. A Winter's Tale, D.H. Lawrence

46. Chaos in Motion and Not in Motion, Wallace Stevens
47. The Sonnet, George J. Dance
48. January, William Carlos Williams
49. watching dali paint the iridescent sky, John Sweet
50. Mother o' Mine, Rudyard Kipling

51. London in July, Amy Levy
52. The Haunted Palace, Edgar Allan Poe
53. December ('Neath Mistletoe), J. Ashby-Sterry
54. Autumn, Kalidasa
55. A Miracle, George J. Dance

56. Autumn, T.E. Hulme
57. Autumn Twilight, Harry Kemp
58. Autumnal, Ernest Dowson
59. New Year's Ode to Liberty, James G. Percival
60. Dulce et decorum est, Wilfred Owen

61. October (Once More at Home), J. Ashby-Sterry
62. January (Upon the Ice), J. Ashby-Sterry
63. Lying in the Grass, Edmund Gosse
64. I Like Canadians, Ernest Hemingway
65. With a Copy of Herrick, Edmund Gosse

66. Blow, blow, thou winter wind, William Shakespeare
67. Dialogue of the Earth and Flower, Richard Oakley
68. Bird Cage, Hector de Saint-Denis Garneau
69. Good King Wenceslas, John Mason Neale
70. A Song for New Year's Eve, William Cullen Bryant

71. Snow, Louis MacNeice
72. November in the Park, Dorothy Dudley
73. The Dyke, John Frederic Herbin
74. Only a Dad, Edgar Guest
75. June in the City, John Reed

76. Why the War?, John Gould Fletcher
77. Christmas Trees, Robert Frost
78. In a Garden, Radclyffe Hall
79. June, Margaret Deland
80. Letter in November, Sylvia Plath

81. Dusk in June, Sara Teasdale
82. There is strange musick in the stirring wood, William Lisle Bowles
83. Summer Days, Wathen Call
84. September (A Foreign Tour), J. Ashby-Sterry
85. Inaugural Poem, Richard Oakley

86. November (A London Fog), J. Ashby-Sterry
87. Bavarian Gentians, D.H. Lawrence
88. An Indian Summer Day on the Prairie, Vachel Lindsay
89. On Summer, George Moses Horton
90. October, John Reed

91. August in the City, Charles Hanson Towne
92. A Dream in November, Edmund Gosse
93. The Christmas Night, Lucy Maud Montgomery
94. A Song of Autumn, Rennell Rodd
95. October, Edward Thomas

96. Winter, Samuel Johnson
97. Card Game, Frank Prewitt
98. The woods shake in an ague-fit, Mathilde Blind
99. June (In Rotten Row), J. Ashby-Sterry
100. In a September Night, F. Wyville Home

Source: Blogger Stats