Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sport / John Colin Dunlop


Sport

Sport! Harbinger of health, relief from care,
Whether enjoyed on mountain, moor, or stream,
In dale, in brake, on ocean, or in air,
Youths gay pursuit, and Age's pleasing dream,
Still, joy-inspiring Sport, thou art my theme!
The pensive lamp let poring schoolmen waste,
And wake long nights, to earn a vain esteem,
While from my heather bed I bound in haste,
Roused by the lark, to hail the morn's reviving beam.

Yet have I known the wisest quench the lamp,
Impatient for the sport approaching morn,
And bold defiance bid to cold and damp,
Dashing the pearly dew-drop from the thorn,
To the shrill music of the early horn:
Blest union! wisdom, health, and sport combined,
Sly Renard's brush in cap of knowledge worn;
Such marvels days of yore recall to mind,
Down the swift stream of time irrevocably borne.

Blythe, at the dawn the sportsman mounts his steed;
And hark! the yelling pack to Cover flies,
Eager he sees the waste of Renard's speed,
And shouts his triumph when the traitor dies,
While Echo to the voice and horn replies.
Perchance he joys to hear the heath-cock crow,
And mark his ebon plumage glancing rise,
To lay with levelled tube his glories low,
Or see him spring transfixed like arrow to the skies.

But now the Sun declines on Auchinfoyle,
And one long day of moorland pastime ends —
A various day of pleasure, and of toil:
From Shearlings low the evening smoke ascends,
And home his way the weary sportsman wends.
O! emblem meet of fragile man's career,
Who his vain hours in sport and labour spends;
The same, alas! a day — a month — an year:
Fate every joy with toil, and disappointment blends.

~~
John Colin Dunlop (1785-1842), ca. 1805
from Poems on Several Occasions, 1836

John Colin Dunlop biography

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Song of the Ungirt Runners /
Charles Hamilton Sorley


The Song of the Ungirt Runners

We swing ungirded hips,
And lightened are our eyes,
The rain is on our lips,
We do not run for prize.
We know not whom we trust
Nor whitherward we fare,
But we run because we must
Through the great wide air.

The waters of the seas
Are troubled as by storm.
The tempest strips the trees
And does not leave them warm.
Does the tearing tempest pause?
Do the tree-tops ask it why?
So we run without a cause
'Neath the big bare sky.

The rain is on our lips,
We do not run for prize,
But the storm the water whips
And the wave howls to the skies.
The winds arise and strike it
And scatter it like sand,
And we run because we like it
Through the broad bright land.

~~
Charles Hamilton Sorley (1895-1915)
from Marlborough, and other poems, 1916

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Charles Hamilton Sorley biography

Sunday, August 14, 2016

To the Swimmer / Countee Cullen


To the Swimmer

Now as I watch you, strong of arm and endurance, battling and struggling
With the waves that rush against you, ever with invincible strength returning
Into my heart, grown each day more tranquil and peaceful, comes a fierce longing
Of mind and soul that will not be appeased until, like you,
I breast yon deep and boundless expanse of blue.

With an outward stroke of power intense your mighty arm goes forth,
Cleaving its way through waters that rise and roll, ever a ceaseless vigil keeping
Over the treasures beneath.

My heart goes out to you of dauntless courage and spirit indomitable,
And though my lips would speak, my spirit forbids me to ask,
“Is your heart as true as your arm?”

~~
Countee Cullen (1903-1946)
from The Modern School, May 1918

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

Countee Cullen biography

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Written after Swimming from Sestos to Abydos /
George Gordon, Lord Byron


Written after Swimming from Sestos to Abydos

If, in the month of dark December,
  Leander, who was nightly wont
(What maid will not the tale remember?)
  To cross thy stream, broad Hellespont!

If, when the wintry tempest roar’d,
  He sped to Hero, nothing loth,
And thus of old thy current pour’d,
  Fair Venus! how I pity both!

For me, degenerate modern wretch,
  Though in the genial month of May,
My dripping limbs I faintly stretch,
  And think I’ve done a feat to-day.

But since he cross’d the rapid tide,
  According to the doubtful story,
To woo,— and — Lord knows what beside,
  And swam for Love, as I for Glory;

’Twere hard to say who fared the best:
  Sad mortals! thus the Gods still plague you!
He lost his labour, I my jest:
  For he was drown’d, and I’ve the ague.    

~~
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824), 1810
from Poetry of Byron, 1881

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Lord Byron biography

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Casey at the Bat / Ernest Lawrence Thayer


Casey at the Bat 

A Ballad of the Republic, sung in the Year 1888

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, “If only Casey could but get a whack at that —
We’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.”

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile lit Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ‘twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt;
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped —
“That ain’t my style," said Casey. “Strike one!” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, “Strike two!”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered “Fraud!”
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.

~~
Ernest Lawrence Thayer (1863-1940), 1888
From Casey at the Bat, 1912

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Ernest Lawrence Thayer biography

Friday, August 5, 2016

Vitai Lampada / Henry Newbolt


Vitai Lampada

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night –
Ten to make and the match to win –
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote –
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

The sand of the desert is sodden red,–
Red with the wreck of a square that broke;–
The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the School is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind  –
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

~~
Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938), 1892
from Admirals All, 1897

Vitai Lampada: "They pass on the torch of life"

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Henry Newbolt biography

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Penny's Top 20 / July 2016


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

  1.  When noon is blazing on the town, Robert Hillyer
  2.  July, Charles G.D. Roberts
  3.  O Canada: The land we love, David Pekrul
  4.  This Summer Night, Percy Hemingway
  5.  For Summer-time, George Wither
  6.  Long May You Live, George J. Dance
  7.  Summer Rain, Hartley Coleridge
  8.  A Boy and His Dad, Edgar Guest 

  9.  After Summer Rain, David Morton

10.  The Pastoral Pilgrim, Katharine Tynan

11.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
12.  A Rainy Summer, Violet Fane

13.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance
14.  Pilgrim Summer, Michael Pendragon
15.  
The Reader, Wallace Stevens
16.  Jonah, AE Reiff
17.  Summer: A fragment, Margaret Deland
18.  The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens
19.  The Night Piece, to Julia, Robert Herrick
20.  For Now Comes Summer, Louis Golding

Source: Blogger, "Stats"