Thursday, December 31, 2015

After Christmas / Charles O'Donnell


After Christmas

Snowed over with the moonlight,
Or turning back the noon-light,
Down through the grooves of space
Earth swung its old, slow way.
But, thronging the rim of heaven,
Angels from morn till even,
Watched earth with reverent pace
Silent its orbit trace,
Cradle wherein God lay.

~~
Charles O'Donnell (1884-1934)
from The Dead Musician, and other poems, 1916

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

Charles O'Donnell biography

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Christmas Symphony / Helen Hunt Jackson (I)


O Christmas stars! your pregnant silentness,
          Mute syllabled in rhythmic light,
          Leads on to-night,
And beckons, as three thousand years ago
It beckoning led. We, simple shepherds, know
          Little we can confess,
Beyond that we are poor, and creep
And wander with our sheep,
     Who love and follow us. We hear,
If we attend, a singing in the sky;
     But feel no fear.
Knowing that God is always nigh,
And none pass by,
Except His Sons, who cannot bring
Tidings of evil, since they sing.
Wise men with gifts are hurrying.
In haste to seek the meaning of the Star,
In search of worship which is new and far.
          We are but humble, so we keep
          On through the night, contented with our sheep,
And with the stars. Between us and the east,
     No wall, no tree, no cloud, lifts bar.
We know the sunrise. Not one least
          Of all its tokens can escape
     Our eyes that watch. But all days are
As nights, and nights as days.
In our still ways.
     We have no dread of any shape
          Which darkness can assume or fill;
     We are not weary; we can wait;
     God's hours are never late.
The wise men say they will return,
Revealing unto us the things they learn.
          Mayhap! Meantime the Star stands still;
And, having that, we have the Sign.
If we mistake, God is divine !

~~
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) 
from Poems, 1886 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography
Read the complete poem here

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Christmas Symphony / Helen Hunt Jackson (II)


II

Oh, not alone because His name is Christ,
          Oh, not alone because Judea waits
     This man-child for her King, the Star stands still.
          Its glory reinstates,
     Beyond humiliation's utmost ill,
     On peerless throne, which she alone can fill,
Each earthly woman. Motherhood is priced
          Of God, at price no man may dare
     To lessen, or misunderstand.
          The motherhood which came
          To virgin sets in vestal flame,
     Fed by each new-born infant's hand,
          With Heaven's air,
     With Heaven's food,
The crown of purest purity revealed,
Virginity eternal signed and sealed
     Upon all motherhood !

~~
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) 
from Poems, 1886 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography
Read the complete poem here

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Christmas Symphony / Helen Hunt Jackson (III)


III

Oh, not alone because His name is Christ,
          Oh, not alone because Judea waits
     This man-child for her King, the Star stands still.
          The Babe has mates.
   Childhood shall be forever on the earth;
And no man who has hurt or lightly priced
          So much as one sweet hair
               On one sweet infant's head,
     But shall be cursed! Henceforth all things fulfil
   Protection to each sacred birth.
          No spot shall dare
               Refuse a shelter. Beasts shall tread
     More lightly; and distress,
     And poverty, and loneliness.
Yea, and all darkness, shall devise
To shield each place wherein an infant lies.
     And wisdom shall come seeking it with gift,
And worship it with myrrh and frankincense;
     And kings shall tremble if it lift
          Its hand against a throne.
          But mighty in its own
Great feebleness, and safe in God's defence.
     No harm can touch it, and no death can kill,
     Without its Father's will!

~~
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) 
from Poems, 1886 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography
Read the complete poem here

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Christmas Symphony / Helen Hunt Jackson (IV)


IV

Oh, not alone because His name is Christ,
          Oh, not alone because Judea waits
     This man-child for her King, the Star stands still.
     The universe must utter, and fulfil
          The mighty voice which states,
     The mighty destiny which holds,
          Its key-note and its ultimate design.
     Waste places and the deserts must perceive
That they are priced,
          No less than gardens in the Heart Divine.
Sorrow her sorrowing must leave,
     And learn one sign
          With joy. And Loss and Gain
          Must be no more.
     And all things which have gone before,
          And all things which remain,
          And all of Life, and all of Death be slain
          In mighty birth, whose name
     Is called Redemption! Praise!
          Praise to God! The same
     To-day and yesterday, and in all days
          Forever! Praise!

~~
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) 
from Poems, 1886 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography
Read the complete poem here

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Christmas Symphony / Helen Hunt Jackson (V)


V

Oh, Christmas stars! Your pregnant silentness,
          Mute syllabled in rhythmic light,
          Fills all the night.
     No doubt, on all your golden shores,
          Full music rings
          Of Happiness
          As sweet as ours.
Midway in that great tideless stream which pours,
     And builds its shining road through trackless space,
From you to us, and us to you, must be
     Some mystic place,
Where all our voices meet, and melt
Into this solemn silence which is felt,
          And sense of sound mysterious brings
Where sound is not. This is God's secret. He
     Sits centred in his myriads of skies,
     Where seas of sound and seas of silence rise,
And break together in one note and key,
     Divinely limitless in harmony!

~~
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) 
from Poems, 1886 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Helen Hunt Jackson biography
Read the complete poem here

Friday, December 25, 2015

Psalm 98 (Joy to the World) - Isaac Watts


Psalm 98

C.M. First Part. Sunday.
Praise for the Gospel.

To our almighty Maker God,
     New honours be addrest;
His great salvation shines abroad,
     And makes the nations blest.

He spake the Word to Abraham first
     His truth fulfils his grace:
The Gentiles make his name their trust,
And learn his righteousness.

Let the whole earth his love proclaim,
    With all her different tongues;
And spread the honours of his name,
    In melody and songs.



C.M. Second Part. Arundel. Bethlehem. 
The Messiahs Coming and Kingdom.

Joy to the world — the Lord is come!
     Let earth receive her King:
Let every heart prepare him room,
     And heav'n and nature sing.

Joy to the earth — the Saviour reigns!
     Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains,
     Repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
     Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow,
     Far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
     And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness
     And wonders of his love.

~~
Isaac Watts (1674-1748), 1719
from Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, 1834

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Isaac Watts biography

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Angels' Anthem / Harry Kemp


The Angels' Anthem

There was music on the hillside and singing in the glen,
And anthems heard in meadows when Christ was born to men:

The king slept on in blindness, though troubled in his sleep;
The high priest's ancient wisdom held no such lore in keep;

The trader and the merchant so bound by gain and rule.
And all the learned scholars who founded school on school,

The consul and the soldiers, their ears were stopped that night,
And only to the shepherds the angels brought delight. . . .

The shepherds heard the singing that charmed the listening air;
The shepherds saw the glory; the shepherds were aware:

There was music on the hillside and singing in the glen,
And anthems heard in meadows when Christ was born to men!

~~
Harry Kemp (1883-1960)
from Chanteys and Ballads, 1920

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

Harry Kemp biography

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Paradise Lost / James Lewis Milligan


Paradise Lost

Christmas days in visions rise,
Days before my years were seven,
Ere I grew so worldly wise,
When I saw with other eyes,
And this earth was heaven.

I have grown into a man,
And discarded every toy,
Yet the child I never can,
He is there like Peter Pan
An immortal boy !

Still he hangs on Christmas Eve
His wee stockings on the bed,
Falls asleep in make-believe,
While the happy fairies weave
Dreams about his head.

Though I've studied Nature's laws,
Probed the world unto the heart;
Trac'd life to its primal cause
That old mystic Santa Claus
Smiles at all my art!

All our fine philosophy,
All the wisdom of the wise,
Is but that old fatal tree;
And our early infancy
Our lost Paradise !

~~
James Lewis Milligan (1876-1961)
from Songs in Time's Despite, 1910

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Christmas Carol / Charles Dickens


A Christmas Carol

I care not for spring; on his fickle wing
Let the blossoms and buds be borne:
He wooes them amain with his treacherous rain.
And he scatters them ere the morn.
An inconstant elf, he knows not himself
Nor his own changing mind an hoar.
He'll smile in your face, and, with wry grimace,
He'll wither your youngest flower.

Let the summer sun to his bright home run,
He shall never be sought by me;
When he's dimmed by a cloud I can laugh aloud,
And care not how sulky he be!
For his darling child is the madness wild
That sports in fierce fever's train;
And when love is too strong, it don't last long.
As many have found to their pain.

A mild harvest night, by the tranquil light
Of the modest and gentle moon,
Has a far sweeter sheen, for me, I ween,
Than the broad and onblushing noon.
But every leaf awakens my grief,
As it lieth beneath the tree;
So let autumn air be never so fair.
It by no means agrees with me.

But my song I troll out, for Christmas stout,
The hearty, the true, and the bold;
A thumper I drain, and with might and main
Give three cheers for this Christmas old!
We'll usher him in with a merry din
That shall gladden his joyous heart,
And we'll keep him up, while there's bite or sup.
And in fellowship good we'll part.

In his fine, honest pride, he scorns to hide
One jot of his hard-weather scars;
They're no disgrace, for there's m«ch the same trace
On the cheeks of our bravest tars.
Then again I sing, till the roof doth ring.
And it echoes from wall to wall —
To the stout old wight, fair welcome to-night,
As the King of the Seasons all!

~~
Charles Dickens (1812-1870), 1837
from The Poems and Verses of Charles Dickens, 1903

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Charles Dickens biography

Monday, December 21, 2015

The winter night is hard as glass / Robert Hillyer


XVII

 The winter night is hard as glass;
The frozen stars hang stilly down;
I sit inside while people pass
From the dead-hearted town.

The tavern hearth is deep and wide,
The flames caress my glowing skin;
The icicles hang cold outside,
But I sit warm within.

The faces pass in blurring white
Outside the frosted window, lifting
Eyes against my cheerful night,
From their night of dreadful drifting.

Sharp breaths blow fast in a smoky gale,
Rags wander through the dull lamp light;
O my veins run gold with Christmas ale,
And the tavern fire is bright.

The midnight sky is clear as glass,
The stars hang frozen on the town,
I watch the dying people pass,
And I wrap me warm in my gown.

~~
Robert Hillyer (1895-1961), 1919 
from The Five Books of Youth, 1920 

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

Robert Hillyer biography

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas, 1917 / Stella Benson


Christmas. 1917

A key no thief can steal, no time can rust;
A faery door, adventurous and golden;
A palace, perfect to our eyes — Ah must
Our eyes be holden ?

Has the past died before this present sin?
Has this most cruel age already stoned
To martyrdom that magic Day, within
Those halls enthroned ?

No. Through the dancing of the young spring rain,
Through the faint summer, and the autumn's burning.
Our still immortal Day has heard again
Our steps returning.

~~
Stella Benson (1892-1933)
from Twenty, 1918

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

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Dead Leaves / Ethelwyn Wetherald


Dead Leaves

Dead leaves in the bird’s nest,
     And after that the snow;
That was where the bird’s breast
     Tenderly did go,
Where the tiny birds pressed
     Lovingly — and lo!
Dead leaves in the bird’s nest
     Under falling snow.

Dead leaves in the heart’s nest,
     And after that the snow;
That was where the heart’s guest
     Brooded months ago,
Where the tender thoughts pressed
     Lovingly — and lo!
Dead leaves in the heart’s nest
     Under falling snow.

~~
Ethelwyn Wetherald (1857-1940)
from The Last Robin: Lyrics and sonnets, 1907

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

Ethelwyn Wetherald biography

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Late Autumn in the Hills / Laura Sherry


Late Autumn in the Hills

A flock of birds
Spurts down the trail of autumn.

Bare hills
Wrap fog-blankets about them,
And nod. . . .      

A whirl of wind
Scatters wild rice over the lake.

There is a shake of snow in the air.
My boat moors in the sedges.

My hand    
Droops over the side of the boat.
My fingers
Touch a lotus pod.
The seeds rattle in the husk.

Autumn is anchored.

~~
Laura Sherry (1876-1947)
from Poetry, September 1922

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

Laura Sherry biography

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Lady of Autumn / C.F. MacIntyre


Lady of Autumn

Lady of Autumn, in your cold repose
  Dreaming among the brown-leaved empty vines
With sable robe drawn close, the night wind blows,
  And Winter with his icy hand prefines
Your lease on this bright garden of wild youth.      
  Soon you will nod by the dry sticks of age.
Lady of Autumn, do I speak the truth?—
  Put on red shoes, make Love a pilgrimage!

~~
C.F. MacIntyre (1890-1967)
from Poetry, May 1920

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

C.F MacIntyre biography

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Ode: Autumn / Thomas Hood


Ode: Autumn

I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless like Silence, listening
To silence, for no lonely bird would sing
Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,
Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn;—      
Shaking his languid locks all dewy bright
With tangled gossamer that fell by night,
  Pearling his coronet of golden corn.

Where are the songs of Summer?— With the sun,
Oping the dusky eyelids of the south,
Till shade and silence waken up as one,
And Morning sings with a warm odorous mouth.
Where are the merry birds? —Away, away,
On panting wings through the inclement skies,
      Lest owls should prey
      Undazzled at noonday,
And tear with horny beak their lustrous eyes.

Where are the blooms of Summer?— In the west,
Blushing their last to the last sunny hours,
When the mild Eve by sudden Night is prest
Like tearful Proserpine, snatch'd from her flow'rs
      To a most gloomy breast.
Where is the pride of Summer,—the green prime,—
The many, many leaves all twinkling?—Three
On the moss'd elm; three on the naked lime
Trembling,—and one upon the old oak-tree!
  Where is the Dryad's immortality?—
Gone into mournful cypress and dark yew,
Or wearing the long gloomy Winter through
  In the smooth holly's green eternity.

The squirrel gloats on his accomplish'd hoard,
The ants have brimm'd their garners with ripe grain,
    And honey bees have stored
The sweets of Summer in their luscious cells;
The swallows all have wing'd across the main;
But here the Autumn melancholy dwells,
    And sighs her tearful spells
Amongst the sunless shadows of the plain.
      Alone, alone,
      Upon a mossy stone,
She sits and reckons up the dead and gone
With the last leaves for a love-rosary,
Whilst all the wither'd world looks drearily,
Like a dim picture of the drownèd past
In the hush'd mind's mysterious far away,
Doubtful what ghostly thing will steal the last
Into that distance, gray upon the gray.

O go and sit with her, and be o'ershaded
Under the languid downfall of her hair:
She wears a coronal of flowers faded
Upon her forehead, and a face of care;—
There is enough of wither'd everywhere
To make her bower,— and enough of gloom;
There is enough of sadness to invite,
If only for the rose that died, whose doom
Is Beauty's,— she that with the living bloom
Of conscious cheeks most beautifies the light:
There is enough of sorrowing, and quite
Enough of bitter fruits the earth doth bear,—
Enough of chilly droppings for her bowl;
Enough of fear and shadowy despair,
To frame her cloudy prison for the soul!

~~
Thomas Hood (1799-1845)
from The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies, Hero and Leander, Lycus the Centaur, and other poems, 1827

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Thomas Hood biography

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Penny's Top 20 / November 2015


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

  1.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
  2.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens 
  3.  Once Like a Light, AE Reiff
  4.  The Falling of the Leaves, W.B. Yeats
  5.  Dirge, Helen Dudley
  6.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance
  7.  
Feuilles d'Automne, Duncan Campbell Scott
  8.  
Toward Evening, Margaret DeLaughter
  9.  The Battle of Blenheim, Robert Southey

10.  There's Nothing Like the Sun, Edward Thomas


11.  Pine River Bay, Dorothy Dudley Harvey 
12.  My November Guest, Robert Frost

13.  The night is freezing fast, A.E. Housman
14.  The Ancient Game, Alfred Gordon
15.  
War, John Le Gay Brereton
16.  The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens
17.  Lorelei's Song, Heinrich Heine
18.  Vowels, Arthur Rimbaud
19.  Autumn, T.E. Hulme
20.  Wind and Silver, Amy Lowell

Source: Blogger, "Stats"