Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mad as the Mist and Snow / W.B. Yeats


XVIII

Mad As The Mist And Snow

Bolt and bar the shutter,
For the foul winds blow:
Our minds are at their best this night,
And I seem to know
That everything outside us is
Mad as the mist and snow.

Horace there by Homer stands,
Plato stands below,
And here is Tully's open page.
How many years ago
Were you and I unlettered lads
Mad as the mist and snow?

You ask what makes me sigh, old friend,
What makes me shudder so?
I shudder and I sigh to think
That even Cicero
And many-minded Homer were
Mad as the mist and snow.

~~
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
from Words for Music, Perhaps, 1932

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

William Butler Yeats biography

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Song of the Four Seasons / Austin Dobson


A Song of the Four Seasons

When Spring comes laughing
By vale and hill,
By wind-flower walking
And daffodil,-
Sing stars of morning,
Sing morning skies,
Sing blue of speedwell,
And my Love's eyes.

When comes the Summer,
Full-leaved and strong,
And gay birds gossip
The orchard long,-
Sing hid, sweet honey
That no bee sips;
Sing red, red roses,
And my Love's lips.

When Autumn scatters
The leaves again,
And piled sheaves bury
The broad-wheeled wain,-
Sing flutes of harvest
Where men rejoice;
Sing rounds of reapers,
And my Love's voice.

But when comes Winter
With hail and storm,
And red fire roaring
And ingle warm,-
Sing first sad going
Of friends that part;
Then sing glad meeting,
And my Love's heart.

~~
Austin Dobson
from Proverbs in Porcelain, and other verses, 1878

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Austin Dobson biography

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Winter Days / Henry Abbey


Winter Days

Now comes the graybeard of the north:
  The forests bare their rugged breasts
To every wind that wanders forth,
  And, in their arms, the lonely nests
That housed the birdlings months ago      
Are egged with flakes of drifted snow.

No more the robin pipes his lay
  To greet the flushed advance of morn;
He sings in valleys far away;
His heart is with the south to-day;      
  He cannot shrill among the corn;
For all the hay and corn are down
  And garnered; and the withered leaf,
Against the branches bare and brown,
  Rattles; and all the days are brief.

An icy hand is on the land;
  The cloudy sky is sad and gray;
But through the misty sorrow streams,
  Outspreading wide, a golden ray.
And on the brook that cuts the plain
  A diamond wonder is aglow,
  Fairer than that which, long ago,
De Rohan staked a name to gain.

~~
Henry Abbey
from Poems, 1879

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Henry Abbey biography

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Snow / William Wilfred Campbell


Snow

Down out of heaven,
Frost-kissed
And wind driven,
Flake upon flake,
Over forest and lake,
Cometh the snow.

Folding the forest,
Folding the farms,
In a mantle of white;
And the river’s great arms,
Kissed by the chill night
From clamor to rest,
Lie all white and shrouded
Upon the world’s breast.

Falling so slowly
Down from above,
So white, hushed, and holy,
Folding the city
Like the great pity
Of God in His love;
Sent down out of heaven
On its sorrow and crime,
Blotting them, folding them
Under its rime.

Fluttering, rustling,
Soft as a breath,
The whisper of leaves,
The low pinions of death,
Or the voice of the dawning,
When day has its birth,
Is the music of silence
It makes to the earth.

Thus down out of heaven,
Frost-kissed
And wind driven,
Flake upon flake,
Over forest and lake,
Cometh the snow.

~~
William Wilfred Campbell
from Snowflakes and Sunbeams, 1888.

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

William Wilfred Campbell biography

Sunday, January 12, 2014

January / Craven Langstroth Betts


January

A winter's day: the landscape veiled in white
Shimmers within the morning's lucent ray;
There is no cloud in all of heaven's height;
There is no leaf nor bird upon the spray;
The winds alone are wandering, while we
Warm sheltered sit in low-eaved privacy.

Gaily the flames leap up the chimney's throat;
The huge gnarled back-log crackles on the hearth;
Hark, how the wheel hums round its cheerful note!
It is the season of the New Year's birth.
All nature greets us smiling; ah, may Time
Spin out our threads to such a sweet-toned chime!

This life is all our portion; little we
Know of the strife and passion of the mart;
The dull round of our quiet cares, the tree,
The corn and kine make up our peaceful part;
The city's pride and longing pass us by;—
How white the world is and how blue the sky!

~~
Craven Langstroth Betts
from Selected Poems, 1916

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

Craven Langstroth Betts biography

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Winter Trees / William Carlos Williams


Winter Trees

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

~~
William Carlos Williams
from Sour Grapes, 1921

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

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Old Song / Edward FitzGerald


Old Song

'Tis a dull sight
  To see the year dying,
When winter winds
  Set the yellow wood sighing:
    Sighing, O sighing!    

When such a time cometh
  I do retire
Into an old room
  Beside a bright fire:
    O, pile a bright fire!

And there I sit
  Reading old things,
Of knights and lorn damsels,
  While the wind sings —
    O, drearily sings!

I never look out
  Nor attend to the blast;
For all to be seen
  Is the leaves falling fast:
    Falling, falling!

But close at the hearth,
  Like a cricket, sit I,
Reading of summer
  And chivalry —
    Gallant chivalry!

Then with an old friend
  I talk of our youth —
How 'twas gladsome, but often
  Foolish, forsooth:
    But gladsome, gladsome!

Or, to get merry,
  We sing some old rhyme
That made the wood ring again
  In summer time —
    Sweet summer time!

Then go we smoking,
  Silent and snug:
Naught passes between us,
  Save a brown jug —
    Sometimes!

And sometimes a tear
  Will rise in each eye,
Seeing the two old friends
  So merrily —
    So merrily!

And ere to bed
  Go we, go we,
Down on the ashes
  We kneel on the knee,
    Praying together!

Thus, then, live I
  Till, 'mid all the gloom,
By Heaven! the bold sun
  Is with me in the room
    Shining, shining!

Then the clouds part,
  Swallows soaring between;
The spring is alive,
  And the meadows are green!

I jump up like mad,
  Break the old pipe in twain,
And away to the meadows,
  The meadows again!

~~
Edward FitzGerald
from The Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1900, 1919

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Edward FitzGerald biography

Saturday, January 4, 2014

January / Robert Bridges


January

Gold is the winter day, misty and dark:
The sunless sky with faded gleams is rent;
And patches of thin snow outlying, mark
The landscape with a drear disfigurement.

The trees their mournful branches lift aloft:
The oak with knotty twigs is full of trust,
With bud-thronged stems the cherry in the croft;
The chestnut holds her gluey knops upthrust.

No birds sing, but the starling chaps his bill
And chatters mockingly; the newborn lambs
Within their strawbuilt fold beneath the hill
Answer with plaintive cry their bleating dams.

Their voices melt in welcome dreams of spring,
Green grass and leafy trees and sunny skies:
My fancy decks the woods, the thrushes sing,
Meadows are gay, bees hum and scents arise.

And God the Maker doth my heart grow bold
To praise for wintry works not understood,
Who all the worlds and ages doth behold,
Evil and good as one, and all as good.

~~
Robert Bridges
from The Shorter Poems of Robert Bridges, 1899

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

Robert Bridges biography

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Birth of the Year / Frederick Tennyson


The Birth of the Year

I.

Let us speak low, the Infant is asleep,
     The frosty hills grow sharp, the Day is near,
And Phosphor with his taper comes to peep
     Into the cradle of the newborn Year;
          Hush! the infant is asleep.
               Monarch of the Day and Night,
               Whisper, yet it is not light,
          The infant is asleep.


II.

Those arms shall crush great serpents, ere to-morrow
     His closed eyes shall wake to laugh and weep;
His lips shall curl with mirth, and writhe with sorrow
     And charm up Truth and Beauty from the Deep:–
          Softly, softly let us keep
               Our vigils; visions cross his rest,
               Prophetic pulses stir his breast,
          Although he be asleep.


III.

Now Love and Death arm'd in his presence wait;
     Genii with lamps are standing at the door;
Oh! he shall sing sweet songs, he shall relate
     Wonder, and glory, and hopes untold before:
          Murmur memories that may creep
               Into his ears of Eld sublime;
               Let the youngestborn of Time
          Hear music in his sleep.


IV.

Quickly he shall awake, the East is bright,
     And the hot glow of the unrisen Sun
Hath kiss'd his brow with promise of its light,
     His cheek is red with victory to be won;
          Quickly shall our King awake.
               Strong as giants, and arise;
               Sager than the old and wise
          The Infant shall awake.


V.

His childhood shall be froward, wild, and thwart,
     His gladness fitful, and his angers blind,
But tender spirits shall o'ertake his heart,
     Sweet tears, and golden moments bland and kind:
          He shall give delight and take.
               Charm, enchant, dismay, and soothe,
               Raise the dead, and touch with youth;
          Oh! sing that he may wake!


VI.

Where is the sword to gird upon his thigh?
     Where is his armour and his laurel crown?
For he shall be a Conqueror ere he die,
     And win him kingdoms wider than his own;
          Like the earthquake he shall shake
               Cities down, and waste like fire,
               Then build them stronger, pile them higher,
          When he shall awake.


VII.

In the dark spheres of his unclosed eyes
     The sheathed lightnings lie, and clonded stars,
That shall glance soray, as in Summer skies.
     Or stream o'er thirsty deserts wing'd with wars;
          For in the pauses of dread hours
               He shall fling his armour off,
               And like a reveller sing and laugh,
          And dance in ladies' bowers.


VIII.

Ofttimes in his midsummer he shall turn
     To look on the dead Spring with weeping eyes,
O'er ashes of frail Beauty stand and mourn,
     And kiss the bier of stricken Hope with sighs;
          Ofttimes like light of onward seas
               He shall hail great days to come,
               Or hear the first dread note of doom
          Like torrents on the breeze.


IX.

His manhood shall be blissful and sublime
    With stormy sorrows and serenest pleasures,
And his crown'd age upon the top of Time
    Shall throne him, great in glories, rich in treasures;
          The Sun is up, the Day is breaking,
               Sing ye sweetly, draw anear;
               Immortal be the newborn year,
          And blessed be its waking !

~~
Frederick Tennyson
from Days and Hours, 1854

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Frederick Tennyson biography

Penny's Top 20 / December 2013


Penny's Top 20

The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in December 2013:

  1.  Night (Fall), George J. Dance 
  2.  Penny's OS 2.0, George J. Dance
  3.  Esthétique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  4.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
  5.  A City Sunset, T.E. Hulme
  6.  The Christmas Silence, Margaret Deland
  7.  The Blue Heron, Theodore Goodridge Roberts

  8.  Ode to the West Wind, Percy Bysshe Shelley

  9.  Christmas Song, Bliss Carman

10.  
December, John Davidson

11.  December, Christopher Pearce Cranch
12. 
 Penny (or Penny's Hat), George J. Dance
13.  Petit the Poet, Edgar Lee Masters
14.  In a drear-nighted December, John Keats
15.  A Christmas Carol for 1862, George Macdonald

16.  December, John Clare
17.  A Christmas Lullaby, John Addington Symonds

18.  Christmas Morn, Thomas D'Arcy McGee
19.  Autumnal Sonnet, William Allingham

20.  Bells Across the Snow, Frances Ridley Havergal



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