Sunday, April 26, 2015

As We Go On / Maxwell Struthers Burt


As We Go On

As we go on, grow older, grow more wise,
Grow friendlier with every friendly thing,
The honourable trees, grave dusk, the swing
Of upland meadows upward to the skies,
And even the old new fraudulent surprise
Of that quaint smiling paradox the spring,
How greatly beauty once again can bring
In smaller ways tears to our tenderer eyes.

We do not wait on mountains or on seas,
For there s a little lake between the hills,
That rustles with the sedges and the bees;
And great adventure found in daffodils
Stirs April gardens, when the world again
Is quick with mice and moles, crickets and men.

~~
Maxwell Struthers Burt (1882-1954)
from Songs and Portraits, 1920

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

Maxwell Struthers Burt biography

Saturday, April 25, 2015

April Aubade / Sylvia Plath


April Aubade

Worship this world of watercolor mood
in glass pagodas hung with veils of green
where diamonds jangle hymns within the blood
and sap ascends the steeple of the vein.

A saintly sparrow jargons madrigals
to waken dreamers in the milky dawn,
while tulips bow like a college of cardinals
before that papal paragon, the sun.

Christened in a spindrift of snowdrop stars,
where on pink-fluted feet the pigeons pass
and jonquils sprout like solomon's metaphors,
my love and I go garlanded with grass.

Again we are deluded and infer
that somehow we are younger than we were.

~~
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)
from the Christian Science Monitor, 1955

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Sylvia Plath biography

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Song of a Second April / Edna St. Vincent Millay


Song of a Second April

April this year, not otherwise
  Than April of a year ago,
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
  Of dazzling mud and dingy snow;
  Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.

There rings a hammering all day,
  And shingles lie about the doors;
In orchards near and far away
  The grey wood-pecker taps and bores;
  And men are merry at their chores,
And children earnest at their play.

The larger streams run still and deep,
  Noisy and swift the small brooks run
Among the mullein stalks the sheep
  Go up the hillside in the sun,
  Pensively,– only you are gone,
You that alone I cared to keep.

~~
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
from Second April, 1921

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

Edna St. Vincent Millay biography

Saturday, April 18, 2015

April Again / James Lewis Milligan


April Again

April again! the magic month that opes
The gates of life and beauty for the world:
When leaf-buds burst and birds begin to build
The fragile tenements and tune their throats
For the full choral at the Feast of June.
Come out into the wakening world and see
The dead arise!

Faith is triumphant, and the skeptic Doubt
Slinks Pole-ward with his sterile crew, and lo!
From out the golden portals of the South
Spring comes with frolic laughter for our fears.

"Life! life! abundant life!" the Earth cries out:
See where the robin lifts his startled head
Amid his struggle with the grounded worm,
The nimble squirrel darts along the fence,
The vagrant crows are loitering on the wing,
The cows go lowing down the lane, the horse
Answers his fellow with a lusty shout!

Who could be old on such a youthful day?
Away with morbid musings on the past,
Sigh not for vanished opportunities;
Here once again life opens to you — go!
Set hand and heart to some good task, for Toil
Stands like an angel in these fallow ways,
Offering for healthful labor fields of gold.

~~
James Lewis Milligan (1876-1961)
from The Beckoning Skyline, and other poems, 1920

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

James Lewis Milligan biography

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Away from Town / Harry Kemp


Away from Town

High-perched upon a boxcar, I speed, I speed, to-day:
I leave the gaunt gray city some good green miles away,
A terrible dream in granite, a riot of streets and brick,
A frantic nightmare of people until the soul grows sick —
Such is the high gray city with the live green waters round
Oozing up from the ocean, slipping in from the Sound.
I'd put up down in the Bowery for nights in a ten-cent bed
Where the dinky "L" trains thunder and rattle overhead;
I'd traipsed the barren pavements with the pain of frost in my feet;
I'd sidled to hotel kitchens and asked for something to eat.

But when the snow went dripping and the young spring came as one
Who weeps because of the winter, laughs because of the sun,
I thought of a limpid brooklet that bickers thro' reeds all day,
And made a streak for the ferry, and rode across in a dray,
And, dodging into the Erie where they bunt the boxcars round,
I peeled my eye for detectives, and boarded an outward bound.
For you know when a man's been cabined in walls for part of the year,
He longs for a place to stretch in, he hankers for country cheer.

~~
Harry Kemp (1883-1960)
from The Cry of Youth, 1914

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

Harry Kemp biography

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Two Tramps in Mud Time / Robert Frost


Two Tramps in Mud Time

Out of the mud two strangers came
And caught me splitting wood in the yard,
And one of them put me off my aim
By hailing cheerily “Hit them hard!”
I knew pretty well why he dropped behind
And let the other go on a way.
I knew pretty well what he had in mind:
He wanted to take my job for pay.

Good blocks of beech it was I split,
As large around as the chopping block;
And every piece I squarely hit
Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.
The blows that a life of self-control
Spares to strike for the common good
That day, giving a loose to my soul,
I spent on the unimportant wood.

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.

A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight
And fronts the wind to unruffle a plume
His song so pitched as not to excite
A single flower as yet to bloom.
It is snowing a flake: and he half knew
Winter was only playing possum.
Except in color he isn’t blue,
But he wouldn’t advise a thing to blossom.

The water for which we may have to look
In summertime with a witching wand,
In every wheel rut’s now a brook,
In every print of a hoof a pond.
Be glad of water, but don’t forget
The lurking frost in the earth beneath
That will steal forth after the sun is set
And show on the water its crystal teeth.

The time when most I loved my task
These two must make me love it more
By coming with what they came to ask.
You’d think I never had felt before
The weight of an axhead poised aloft,
The grip on earth of outspread feet.
The life of muscles rocking soft
And smooth and moist in vernal heat.

Out of the woods two hulking tramps
(From sleeping God knows where last night,
But not long since in the lumber camps.)
They thought all chopping was theirs of right.
Men of the woods and lumberjacks,
They judged me by their appropriate tool.
Except as a fellow handled an ax,
They had no way of knowing a fool.

Nothing on either side was said.
They knew they had but to stay their stay
And all their logic would fill my head:
As that I had no right to play
With what was another man’s work for gain.
My right might be love but theirs was need.
And where the two exist in twain
Theirs was the better right — agreed.

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For heaven and the future’s sakes.

~~
Robert Frost  (1874-1963), 1934
from A Further Range, 1936

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Sunday, April 5, 2015

An Easter Song / Richard Le Gallienne


An Easter Song

Arise, my heart, and sing thy Easter song!
     To the great anthem of returning bird,
     And sweetening bud, and green ascending blade,
          Add thou thy word.
Long was the winter and the waiting long;
     Heart, there were hours, indeed, thou wert afraid,
          So long the Spring delayed.

Shut in the Winter's alabaster tomb,
     So white and still the sleeping Summer lay
          That dead she seemed;
And none might know how in her magic side
     Slept the young Spring, and moved,
          And smiled, and dreamed.
Behold, she wakes again, and, open-eyed,
     Gazes, in wonder, 'round the leafy room,
At the young flowers. Upon this Easter Day
     Awaken, too, my heart, open thine eyes,
     And from thy seeming death thou, too, arise.

Arise, my heart; yea, go thou forth and sing!
     Join thou thy voice to all this music sweet
     Of crowding leaf and busy, building wing,
          And falling showers;
The murmur soft of little lives new-born,
     The armies of the grass, the million feet
          Of marching flowers.

How sweetly blows the Resurrection horn
     Across the meadows, over the far hills!
     In the soul's garden a new sweetness stirs,
         And the heart fills,
As in and out the mind flow the soft airs.
     Arise, my heart, and sing, this Easter morn;
     In the year's resurrection do thy part,
          Arise, my heart!

~~
Richard Le Gallienne (1866-1947)
from New Poems, 1910

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

Richard Le Gallienne biography

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Lilies and Violets / Mary Gilmore


Lilies and Violets

I wait in a garden sweet,
     Lilies are there and violets
And in the midst (O, heart, a-beat!)
     She whom I love . . who me forgets
          Walking amid her violets.

~~
Mary Gilmore (1865-1962)
from Marri'd, and other verses, 1910

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

Mary Gilmore biography

Friday, April 3, 2015

Sonnet (Violets) / Alice Dunbar-Nelson


Sonnet

I had no thought of violets of late,
The wild, shy kind that spring beneath your feet
In wistful April days, when lovers mate
And wander through the fields in raptures sweet.
The thought of violets meant florists’ shops,
And bows and pins, and perfumed papers fine;
And garish lights, and mincing little fops
And cabarets and songs, and deadening wine.
So far from sweet real things my thoughts had strayed,
I had forgot wide fields, and clear brown streams;      
The perfect loveliness that God has made,–
Wild violets shy and Heaven-mounting dreams.
And now – unwittingly, you’ve made me dream
Of violets, and my soul’s forgotten gleam.

~~
Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875-1935)
from The Book of American Negro Poetry, 1922

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

Alice Dunbar-Nelson biography

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Penny's Top 20 / March 2015

Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in March 2015:

  1.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
  2.  Young World, Louise Morey Bowman
  3.  On the First Morning of Spring, A.Y. Campbell
  4.  In a Winter Wood, Clinton Scollard
  5.  A Patch of Old Snow, Robert Frost
  6.  Late Snow, J.C. Squire
  7.  Woodman, spare that tree!, George P. Morris

  8.  March, Edward Thomas

  9.  The Coming of Spring: Madrid, Arthur Symons

10.  Lines in Late March, John G. Neihardt


11.  The Intruder, Grace Stone Coates
12.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance

13.  Chaos in Motion and Not in Motion, Wallace Stevens
14.  If Winter Remain, Clark Ashton Smith
15.  
Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens 
16.  Last Week of February, 1890, Robert Bridges
17.  In Violet Light, George J. Dance
18.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
19.  Poem with Rhythms, Wallace Stevens
20. 
Accompaniment, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau

Source: Blogger, "Stats"