Sunday, April 23, 2017

Spring Morning / A.E. Housman

Spring Morning

Star and coronal and bell
  April underfoot renews,
And the hope of man as well
  Flowers among the morning dews.

Now the old come out to look,
  Winter past and winter's pains,
How the sky in pool and brook
  Glitters on the grassy plains.

Easily the gentle air
  Wafts the turning season on;
Things to comfort them are there,
  Though 'tis true the best are gone.

Now the scorned unlucky lad
  Rousing from his pillow gnawn
Mans his heart and deep and glad
  Drinks the valiant air of dawn.

Half the night he longed to die,
  Now are sown on hill and plain
Pleasures worth his while to try
  Ere he longs to die again.

Blue the sky from east to west
  Arches, and the world is wide,
Though the girl he loves the best
  Rouses from another's side.

A.E. Housman (1859-1936)
from Last Poems, 1922

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

To a Fair Young Lady / John Dryden

To a Fair Young Lady, Going out of Town in the Spring

Ask not the cause why sullen Spring
  So long delays her flowers to bear;
Why warbling birds forget to sing,
  And winter storms invert the year:
Chloris is gone; and fate provides      
To make it Spring where she resides.

Chloris is gone, the cruel fair;
  She cast not back a pitying eye:
But left her lover in despair
To sigh, to languish, and to die:
Ah! how can those fair eyes endure
To give the wounds they will not cure?

Great God of Love, why hast thou made
  A face that can all hearts command,
That all religions can invade,
  And change the laws of every land?
Where thou hadst plac'd such power before,
  Thou shouldst have made her mercy more.

When Chloris to the temple comes,
  Adoring crowds before her fall;
She can restore the dead from tombs
  And every life but mine recall.
I only am by Love design'd
To be the victim for mankind.

John Dryden (1631-1700)
from Examen Poeticum, 1693

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Dryden biography

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Ode / Paul Laurence Dunbar

Easter Ode

To the cold, dark grave they go
Silently and sad and slow,
From the light of happy skies
And the glance of mortal eyes.
In their beds the violets spring,
And the brook flows murmuring;
But at eve the violets die,
And the brook in sand runs dry.

In the rosy, blushing morn,
See, the smiling babe is born;
For a day it lives, and then
Breathes its short life out again.
And anon gaunt-visaged Death,
With his keen and icy breath,
Bloweth out the vital fire
In the hoary-headed sire.

Heeding not the children's wail,
Fathers droop and mothers fail;
Sinking sadly from each other,
Sister parts from loving brother.
All the land is filled with wailing,
Sounds of mourning garments trailing,
With their sad portent imbued,
Making melody subdued.

But in all this depth of woe
This consoling truth we know:
There will come a time of rain,
And the brook will flow again;
Where the violet fell, 'twill grow,
When the sun has chased the snow.
See in this the lesson plain,
Mortal man shall rise again.

Well the prophecy was kept;
Christ "first fruit of them that slept"
Rose with vic'try-circled brow;
So, believing one, shalt thou.
Ah! but there shall come a day
When, unhampered by this clay,
Souls shall rise to life newborn
On that resurrection morn.

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
from Oak and Ivy, 1893

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Paul Laurence Dunbar biography

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Evening / James Church Alvord

Easter Evening

Walking through woodlands and oncoming night
I saw His hair stream in the sky-line’s red,
I heard His footsteps on the path which led
Out from the naked trees; while golden light
Shook from His seamless robe, that, rimpling, slight  
As woof of dream-stuff, flamed across the bed
Of some low-gurgling brook. He was not dead —
His risen presence was a world’s delight.

It was the magic of a night too fleet
That filled the valley with a foam of mist;    
The scorch of cloud-banks that the sun still kissed,
And crunch of crinkled leaves beneath my feet.
I’d offer every breath I’ve yet to breathe,
Just to believe, O Master — to believe!

James Church Alvord
from Poetry, April 1917

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

James Church Alvord biography

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Branch / AE Reiff

The Branch

the Lord of All
descended into flesh,
came through the
 million worlds
into the one
of mercy,
unlike the prism that divides the ray,
undiffused, he came into the body's clay,
the Son
of the
the Son, the
Our world
has been
by his being
no extra-
his human body
shaped it to a tree 
that roots in wisdom
but whose beauty's trunk
to the earth sphere a branch extended,
on that tree the Lord Beauteous hung suspended,
and then we were enabled to receive him.

AE Reiff, 2016

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

Encouragements for Planting

Sunday, April 9, 2017

April Madness / Charles Hanson Towne

April Madness

There is a time when the young Year
Goes mad with very ecstasy;
When all the rapture of the world
Is crushed in one wild melody.

It is the hour when April comes
With silver flute and virelay,
With magic pipe and madrigal,
And sings her happy heart away.

The bloom and wonder of the Spring
Are vocal on her golden tongue;
The soul of Music comes to earth,
And life, and love, and joy are young.

Join, O my heart, in this wild song;
The jocund April sets you free.
Drink the old wine of her new days —
Go mad with very ecstasy!

Charles Hanson Towne (1877-1949)
from Beyond the Stars, and other poems, 1913

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

Charles Hanson Towne biography

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Le Sacre du Printemps / W.J. Turner

Le Sacre du Printemps

Spring trembles on the hills and though the earth
Is grey and dark with silence and dim rains
Long bands of red and yellow ochre lie
Like corybants enswathed in vivid sashes
Under the soil that's fragrant with their presence.
The Winter widow-stolèd, grey and white,
Leans across hill and valley pensively
Weeping to leave those quiet, sober plains
Where gentle melancholy drapes her robes
In cloud and dripping wood. She is not mute,
But all her soul is gentle; reverie
In tracts of cool rain-washed reflected light
Is more delectable to her than songs
Of any passion. When, dismayed, she hears
That note of longing bubbling to the sky
Shiv'ring she turns, retires with decent train
And leaves the earth all breathless, panting hard.
Quickened with such mad trembling ecstasy
Those corybants arise, yellow and red,
And shake their vivid sashes o'er the land;
The world holds breath a moment; then they dance,
Dance madly, whirling millions springing up
Tossing slim heads, their naked beauty bare
Intoxicating the blue laughing sky
To foam imagination — Cumuli,
Cloud-white creations frothed in empty space,
So insubstantial, of such dream-like weight
That if they moved they'd vanish. Then Desire
That sucks a wraith-like beauty visible
From nothingness, and out of ordure vile
Summons bright Forms to press against the wind
Their all-too-fleeting Symmetry,
Wakes in the hearts of men and scatters seeds
Of poignant loveliness so sweet, so rare
That springing up in some far-distant time
The world will dance in sharper ecstasy,
Flowers will be taller, cities hang like blooms
Upon the breast of earth, and men and women,
Like Gods in dazzling beauty, arm in arm,
White flesh to white flesh, bathe in sapphire seas
And rapturously hunt the spirit's jewel.
Green gleam of mariners that beckons far
More beautiful than purple-furrowed oceans
Or emerald isles — but hidden in their eyes
So that they never find its dwelling-place
Or cry Eureka! resting on their oars.

W.J. Turner (1889-1946)
from The Hunter, and other poems, 1916

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

W.J. Turner biography