Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Song for New Year's Eve / William Cullen Bryant


A Song for New Year's Eve

Stay yet, my friends, a moment stay—
     Stay till the good old year,
So long companion of our way,
     Shakes hands, and leaves us here.
          Oh stay, oh stay,
One little hour, and then away.

The year, whose hopes were high and strong,
     Has now no hopes to wake;
Yet one hour more of jest and song
     For his familiar sake.
          Oh stay, oh stay,
One mirthful hour, and then away.

The kindly year, his liberal hands
     Have lavished all his store.
And shall we turn from where he stands,
     Because he gives no more?
          Oh stay, oh stay,
One grateful hour, and then away.

Days brightly came and calmly went,
     While yet he was our guest;
How cheerfully the week was spent!
     How sweet the seventh day’s rest!
          Oh stay, oh stay,
One golden hour, and then away.

Dear friends were with us, some who sleep
     Beneath the coffin-lid:
What pleasant memories we keep
     Of all they said and did!
          Oh stay, oh stay,
One tender hour, and then away.

Even while we sing, he smiles his last,
     And leaves our sphere behind.
The good old year is with the past;
     Oh be the new as kind!
          Oh stay, oh stay,
One parting strain, and then away.

~~
William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), 1859
from Thirty Poems, 1864

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

William Cullen Bryant biography

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Good King Wenceslas / John Mason Neale


Good King Wenceslas

Good King Wenceslas look’d out,
    On the Feast of Stephen;
When the snow lay round about,
    Deep, and crisp, and even:
Brightly shone the moon that night,
    Though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
    Gath’ring winter fuel.

“Hither page and stand by me,
    If thou know’st it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he?
    Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence.
    Underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence,
    By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me flesh,and bring me wine,
    Bring me pine-logs hither:
Thou and I will see him dine,
    When we bear them thither.”
Page and monarch forth they went,
    Forth they went together;
Through the rude wind’s wild lament,
    And the bitter weather.

“Sire, the night is darker now,
    And the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know now how,
    I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, good my page;
    Tread thou in them boldly;
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
    Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod,
    Where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod
    Which the Saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
    Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor,
    Shall yourselves find blessing.

~~
John Mason Neale (1818-1866)
from Carols for Christmas-Tide, 1853

[Poem is in the public domain world-wide]

John Mason Neale biography

Monday, December 25, 2017

For Christmas Day / Charles Wesley


For Christmas Day 

Hark, how all the welkin rings,
"Glory to the King of kings;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconcil'd!"
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
Universal nature say,
"Christ the Lord is born to-day!

Christ, by highest Heaven ador'd,
Christ, the everlasting Lord:
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of a virgin's womb!
Veil'd in flesh, the Godhead see,
Hail th' incarnate Deity!
Pleas'd as man with men to appear,
Jesus, our Immanuel here!
\
Hail, the heavenly Prince of Peace,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth;
Born to give them second birth.

Come, desire of nations, come,
Fix in us thy humble home;
Rise, the woman's conquering seed,
Bruise in us the serpent's head.
Now display thy saving power,
Ruin'd nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to thine.

Adam's likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp thy image in its place.
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.
Let us thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the life, the inner man:
O, to all thyself impart,
Form'd in each believing heart.

~~
Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
from Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1739

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Charles Wesley biography

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Christmas Night / Lucy Maud Montgomery


The Christmas Night

Wrapped was the world in slumber deep,
By seaward valley and cedarn steep,
And bright and blest were the dreams of its sleep;
All the hours of that wonderful night-tide through
The stars outblossomed in fields of blue,
A heavenly chaplet, to diadem
The King in the manger of Bethlehem.

Out on the hills the shepherds lay,
Wakeful, that never a lamb might stray,
Humble and clean of heart were they;
Thus it was given them to hear
Marvellous harpings strange and clear,
Thus it was given them to see
The heralds of the nativity.

In the dim-lit stable the mother mild
Looked with holy eyes on her child,
Cradled him close to her heart and smiled;
Kingly purple nor crown had he,
Never a trapping of royalty;
But Mary saw that the baby's head
With a slender nimbus was garlanded.

Speechless her joy as she watched him there,
Forgetful of pain and grief and care,
And every thought in her soul was a prayer;
While under the dome of the desert sky
The Kings of the East from afar drew nigh,
And the great white star that was guide to them
Kept ward o'er the manger of Bethlehem.

~~
Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942)
from The Watchman, and other poems, 1916

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

Lucy Maud Montgomery biography

Saturday, December 23, 2017

December ('Neath Mistletoe) / J. Ashby-Sterry


December ('Neath Mistletoe)

'Neath Mistletoe, should chance arise,
You may be happy if you're wise!
     Though bored you be with Pantomime
     And Christmas fare and Christmas rhyme —
One fine old custom don't despise.

If you're a man of enterprise
You'll find, I venture to surmise,
     'Tis pleasant then at Christmas-time
           'Neath Mistletoe!

You see they scarcely can disguise
The sparkle of their pretty eyes:
     And no one thinks it is a crime,
     When goes the merry Christmas chime,
A rare old rite to exercise
          'Neath Mistletoe!

~~
J. Ashby-Sterry (1836-1917)
from The Lazy Minstrel, 1886

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

J. Ashby-Sterry biography

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Miracle / George J. Dance


A Miracle

For them the blessed oil still burned.
Through black of eight long winter nights,
when unto Zion they returned,
for them the blessed oil still burned –
A miracle we all have learned –
That sweet return! Those wondrous lights!
For them the blessed oil still burned
through black of eight long winter nights.

~~
George J. Dance, 2017

[All rights reserved - used with permission]

George J. Dance biography

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas Trees / Robert Frost


Christmas Trees

          (A Christmas Circular Letter)

The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, I said,
“There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

                                                     “You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north. He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

~~
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
from Mountain Interval, 1920

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

Robert Frost biography

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Magi / W.B. Yeats


The Magi

Now as at all times I can see in the mind's eye,
In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones
Appear and disappear in the blue depths of the sky
With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,
And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,
And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,
Being by Calvary's turbulence unsatisfied,
The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.

~~
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
from Responsibilities, 1914

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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Song of Autumn / Rennell Rodd


A Song of Autumn

All through the golden weather
     Until the autumn fell,
Our lives went by together
     So wildly and so well.–

But autumn's wind uncloses
     The heart of all your flowers,
I think as with the roses,
     So hath it been with ours.

Like some divided river
     Your ways and mine will be,
– To drift apart for ever,
     For ever till the sea.

And yet for one word spoken,
     One whisper of regret,
The dream had not been broken
     And love were with us yet.

~~
Rennell Rodd (1858-1941)
from Songs in the South, 1881 

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

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Autumn Twilight / Harry Kemp


Autumn Twilight

Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut

Rich afterglows of Autumn
Fill all the world with light
And elm and oak and maple
Loom up like fire in flight,
And golden is the valley,
And golden is the hill,
And golden is the first star
At twilight's window-sill.

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

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

Harry Kemp biography

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Sonnet / George J. Dance


The Sonnet

It starts with staring at an empty page
And trying to find a decent set of rhymes,
With just one thought to stop frustrated rage:
You only have to do this seven times.

Put rhymes in order, notice what they're saying,
Then try to tell that story line-by-line.
When lines are sketched out, then you can start playing
With each one. Use your skills to make it fine:

Use sound to give each line the proper feel,
Alliteration, assonance, and more;
Add concrete images to make it 'real';
Add more of those by using metaphor.

Then at some point you'll stop, read, ponder on it,
And realize you just composed a sonnet.

~~
George J. Dance, 2017

[All rights reserved - used with permission]

George J. Dance biography

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Penny's Top 20 / November 2017


Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in November 2017:

  1.  Winterworld Descending, Will Dockery
  2.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  3.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
  4.  Dulce et Decorum est, Wilfred Owen
  5.  Letter in November, Sylvia Plath
  6.  November in the Park, Dorothy Dudley
  7.  Why the War?, John Gould Fletcher
  8.  There is strange musick ..., William Lisle Bowles
  9.  November (A London Fog), J. Ashby-Sterry

10.  A Dream in November, Edmund Gosse


11.  Fate, Patrick MacGill
12.  The Haunted Palace, Edgar Allan Poe 
13.  A Winter's Tale, D.H. Lawrence
14.  Premonition, George J. Dance
15.  October (Once More at Home), J. Ashby-Sterry 
16.  There Was a Time, George J. Dance
17.  Evil, Arthur Rimbaud
18.  Chaos in Motion and Not in Motion, Wallace Stevens
19.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance  
20.  Three Grey Days, Francis Sherman


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