Sunday, February 18, 2018

Ode to Sport / Pierre de Coubertin (1)

Ode to Sport


O Sport, pleasure of the Gods, essence of life, you appeared suddenly in the midst of the grey clearing which writhes with the drudgery of modern existence, like the radiant messenger of a past age, when mankind still smiled. And the glimmer of dawn lit up the mountain tops and flecks of light dotted the ground in the gloomy forests.


O Sport, you are Beauty! You are the architect of that edifice which is the human body and which can become abject or sublime according to whether it is defiled by vile passions or improved through healthy exertion. There can be no beauty without balance and proportion, and you are the peerless master of both, for you create harmony, you give movements rhythm, you make strength graceful and you endow suppleness with power.


O Sport, you are Justice! The perfect equity for which men strive in vain in their social institutions is your constant companion. No one can jump a centimetre higher than the height he can jump, nor run a minute longer than the length he can run. The limits of his success are determined solely by his own physical and moral strength.


O Sport, you are Audacity! The meaning of all muscular effort can be summed up in the word ‘dare’. What good are muscles, what is the point of feeling strong and agile, and why work to improve one’s agility and strength, unless it is in order to dare? But the daring you inspire has nothing in common with the adventurer’s recklessness in staking everything on chance. Yours is a prudent, well-considered audacity.

(continued ...)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Ode to Sport / Pierre de Coubertin (2)

O Sport, you are Honour! The laurels you bestow have no value unless they have been won in absolute fairness and with perfect impartiality. He who, with some shameful trick, manages to deceive his fellow competitors feels guilt to his very core and lives in fear of the ignominious epithet which shall forever be attached to his name should his trickery be discovered.


O Sport, you are Joy! At your behest, flesh dances and eyes smile; blood races abundantly through the arteries. Thoughts stretch out on a brighter, clearer horizon. To the sorrowful you can even bring salutary diversion from their distress, whilst the happy you enable fully to savour their joy of living.


 O Sport, you are Fecundity! You strive directly and nobly towards perfection of the race, destroying unhealthy seed and correcting the flaws which threaten its essential purity. And you fill the athlete with a desire to see his sons grow up agile and strong around him to take his place in the arena and, in their turn, carry off the most glorious trophies.


O Sport, you are Progress! To serve you, a man must improve himself both physically and spiritually. You force him to abide by a greater discipline; you demand that he avoid all excess. You teach him wise rules which allow him to exert himself with the maximum of intensity without compromising his good health.


O Sport, you are Peace! You promote happy relations between peoples, bringing them together in their shared devotion to a strength which is controlled, organized and self-disciplined. From you, the young worldwide learn self-respect, and thus the diversity of national qualities becomes the source of a generous and friendly rivalry.

Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937) 
as "Georges Hohrod & M. Eschbach"
Paris Olympics, 1912 

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

Pierre de Coubertin biography

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Because, one night, my soul reached out /
Govinda Krishna Chettur


Because, one night, my soul reached out and found
Yours, in the dim and visionary maze
Of dreams, and Love upon the starry ways:
Because, when, with heart bleeding and eyes bound,
I stumbled to your feet, you raised and crowned
My sorrowing with tears and tender praise:
Because, sometimes men dream of perfect days,
With Death's encircling arms about them wound:
Because of this, because of all of this,
Am I for ever dreaming of sweet hours,
As flowers dream anight of the wind's kiss:
For ever fashioning to Love's demands
This passionate joy, this wonder that is ours,
I that have yearned for the least touch of your hands.

Govinda Krishna Chettur (1898-1936)
from The Triumph of Love: A sonnet sequence, 1932

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

Govinda Krishna Chettur biography

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Song of the Ski / Wilson MacDonald

The Song of the Ski

Norse am I when the first snow falls;
Norse am I till the ice departs.
The fare for which my spirit calls
Is blood from a hundred viking-hearts.
The curved wind wraps me like a cloak;
The pines blow out their ghostly smoke.
I'm high on the hill and ready to go —
A wingless bird in a world of snow:
Yet I'll ride the air
With a dauntless dare
That only a child of the north can know.

The bravest ski has a cautious heart
And moves like a tortoise at the start,
But when it tastes the tang of the air
It leaps away like a frightened hare.
The day is gloomy, the curtains half-drawn,
And light is stunted as at the dawn:
But my foot is sure and my arm is brawn.

I poise on the hill and I wave adieu:
(My curving skis are firm and true)
The slim wood quickens, the air takes fire
And sings to me like a gypsy's lyre.
Swifter and swifter grows my flight:
The dark pines ease the unending white.
The lean, cold birches, as I go by,
Are like blurred etchings against the sky.
One am I for a moment's joy
With the falling star and the plunging bird.
The world is swift as an Arab boy;
The world is sweet as a woman's word.
Never came such a pure delight.
To a bacchanal or a sybarite:
Swifter and swifter grows my flight,
And glad am I, as I near the leap,
That the snow is fresh and the banks are deep.

Swifter and swifter on I fare,
And soon I'll float with the birds on air.
The speed is blinding; I'm over the ridge,
Spanning space on a phantom bridge.
The drifts await me; I float, I fall:
The world leaps up like a lunging carp.
I land erect and the tired winds drawl
A lazy rune on a broken harp.

Child of the roofless world am I;
Not of those hibernating drones
Who fear the gray of a wintry sky
And the shrieking wind's ironic tones,
Who shuffle cards in a cloud of smoke
Or crawl like frozen flies at chess,
Or gossip all day with meddling folk
In collar of starch and a choking dress.

Come, ye maids of the vanity-box,
Come, ye men of the stifling air:
The white wind waits at your door and knocks;
The white snow calls you everywhere.
Come, ye lads of the lounge and chair,
And gird your feet with the valiant skis
And mount the steed of the winter air
And hold the reins of the winter breeze.

Lord of the mountains dark with pine!
Lord of the fields of smoking snow!
Grant to this vagrant heart of mine
A patch of wood where my feet may go,
And a roofless world to my journey's end,
And a cask of wind for my cup of wine,
And yellow gold of the sun to spend,
And at night the stars in endless line,
And, after it all, the hand of a friend —
The hand of a trusted friend in mine.

Wilson MacDonald (1880-1967)
from Out of the Wilderness, 1926

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Wilson MacDonald biography

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Twice a week the winter thorough / A.E. Housman


Twice a week the winter thorough
    Here stood I to keep the goal:
Football then was fighting sorrow
    For the young man's soul.

Now in May time to the wicket
    Out I march with bat and pad:
See the son of grief at cricket
    Trying to be glad.

Try I will; no harm in trying:
    Wonder 'tis how little mirth
Keeps the bones of man from lying
    On the bed of earth.

A.E. Housman (1859-1936)
from A Shropshire Lad, 1896

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

A.E. Housman biography

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Winter Night / John Reed

Winter Night

High hangs the hollow, ringing shield of heaven,
Embossed with stars. The thin air wounds like steel,
Stark and resilient as a Spanish blade.
Sharp snaps the rigid lake's mysterious ice,
And the prim, starchy twigs of naked trees
Crackle metallic in an unfelt wind.
A light-poised Damoclean scimitar
The faintly-damascened pale moon. Benumbed
Shrinks the racked earth griped in the hand of Cold.
O hark! Swift, anvil-ringing iron hoofs
Drum down the boreal interstellar space:
The Blue Knight rides, spurring his snorting stallion
Out of the dark side of the frozen moon —
Eyes crueller than a beryl-sheathed crevasse,
Breath like the chilly fog of polar seas,
Glaciers for armor on his breast and thighs,
A polished Alp for helmet, and for plume
The league-long Northern Lights behind him floating,
Wave on wave of prismatic blazoning,
Glorious up the sky!
                                       The Blue Knight rides
With his moon-shimmering, star-tipped lance at rest, —
Drives at the world — Crash ! and the brittle globe
Bursts like a crystal goblet, — shivering, falling, —
Shivers, splinters brustling, tinkling, jarring,
Jingling in fading dissonance down the void —
Jangling down the unplumbed void forever.  .  .  .

John Reed (1887-1920),  1906
from Tamberlaine, and other verses, 1917

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

John Reed biography

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Waking in Winter / Sylvia Plath

Waking in Winter

I can taste the tin of the sky – the real tin thing.
Winter dawn is the color of metal,
The trees stiffen into place like burnt nerves.
All night I have dreamed of destruction, annihilations – An assembly-line of cut throats, and you and I
Inching off in the gray Chevrolet, drinking the green
Poison of stilled lawns, the little clapboard gravestones,
Noiseless, on rubber wheels, on the way to the sea resort.

How the balconies echoed! How the sun lit up
The skulls, the unbuckled bones facing the view!
Space! Space! The bed linen was giving out entirely.
Cot legs melted in terrible attitudes, and the nurses –
Each nurse patched her soul to a wound and disappeared.
The deathly guests had not been satisfied
With the rooms, or the smiles, or the beautiful rubber plants,
Or the sea, Hushing their peeled sense like Old Mother Morphia.

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Friday, February 2, 2018

Penny's Top 20 / January 2018

Penny's Top 20
The most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog in January 2018:

  1.  A January Dandelion, George Marion McClellan
  2.  A Wish, Margaret Veley
  3.  A Song for New Year's Eve, William Cullen Bryant
  4.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance  
  5.  Lana Turner has collapsed!, Frank O'Hara
  6.  The First Snowfall, James Russell Lowell
  7.  Three Thousand Miles, Louis MacNeice
  8.  January, Folgore de San Geminiano
  9.  Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost

10.  January, Hilaire Belloc

11.  January 1939, Dylan Thomas
12.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
13.  Winter Love, George J. Dance
14.  Ballade of Summer's Sleep, Archibald Lampman
15.  A Miracle, George J. Dance
16.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
17.  The Reader, Wallace Stevens
18.  The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens
19.  Autumn, T.E. Hulme
20.  Puella Parvula, Wallace Stevens

Source: Blogger, "Stats"

Penny's Top 100 of 2017

The 100 most-visited poems on  The Penny Blog during 2012:

  1. The Reader, Wallace Stevens
  2. Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
  3. Winterworld Descending, Will Dockery
  4. Easter Evening, James Church Alvord
  5. Penny (or Penny's Hat), George J. Dance

  6. The Branch, AE Reiff
  7. April Madness, Charles Hanson Towne
  8. Easter Ode. Paul Laurence Dunbar
  9. There was a Time, George J. Dance
10. Winter Heavens, George Meredith

11. Evil / Le Mal, Arthur Rimbaud
12. Le Sacre du Printemps, W.J. Turner
13. April Fool's Day, Will E. Cowles
14. A Little Madness in the Spring, Emily Dickinson
15. I So Liked Spring, Charlotte Mew

16. Dirty Spring, Edward Sapir
17. Spring Morning, A.E. Housman
18. March, William Morris
19. The Housewife: Winter Afternoon, Karle Wilson Baker
20. March (O Wind of March), J. Ashby-Sterry

21. March in Tryon, Florence D. Snelling
22. February (Saint Valentine), J. Ashby-Sterry
23. To the Same (Philoclea), Robert Potter
24. Return of Spring, Pierre de Ronsard
25. Awake thou Spring, Thomas Campion

26. To a Fair Young Lady, Going out of Town, John Dryden
27. Canadian Folk-Song, William Wilfred Campbell
28. A Game of Chess, Mortimer Collins
29. Sonnet for the 14th of February, Thomas Hood
30. The Bright Extensive Will, AE Reiff

31. Rondeau: An April Day, W.M. McKeracher
32. April (An April Day), J. Ashby-Sterry
33. October, Margaret Veley
34. Premonition, George J. Dance
35. February in Rome, Edmund Gosse

36. February, Ralph Hodgson
37. Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
38. Six O'Clock, Trumbull Stickey
39. The Dwarf, Wallace Stevens
40. A May Song, Violet Fane

41. For Christmas Day, Charles Wesley
42. Ode, Richard West
43. I would I were the glow-worm, Mathilde Blind
44. May (A Private View), J. Ashby-Sterry
45. A Winter's Tale, D.H. Lawrence

46. Chaos in Motion and Not in Motion, Wallace Stevens
47. The Sonnet, George J. Dance
48. January, William Carlos Williams
49. watching dali paint the iridescent sky, John Sweet
50. Mother o' Mine, Rudyard Kipling

51. London in July, Amy Levy
52. The Haunted Palace, Edgar Allan Poe
53. December ('Neath Mistletoe), J. Ashby-Sterry
54. Autumn, Kalidasa
55. A Miracle, George J. Dance

56. Autumn, T.E. Hulme
57. Autumn Twilight, Harry Kemp
58. Autumnal, Ernest Dowson
59. New Year's Ode to Liberty, James G. Percival
60. Dulce et decorum est, Wilfred Owen

61. October (Once More at Home), J. Ashby-Sterry
62. January (Upon the Ice), J. Ashby-Sterry
63. Lying in the Grass, Edmund Gosse
64. I Like Canadians, Ernest Hemingway
65. With a Copy of Herrick, Edmund Gosse

66. Blow, blow, thou winter wind, William Shakespeare
67. Dialogue of the Earth and Flower, Richard Oakley
68. Bird Cage, Hector de Saint-Denis Garneau
69. Good King Wenceslas, John Mason Neale
70. A Song for New Year's Eve, William Cullen Bryant

71. Snow, Louis MacNeice
72. November in the Park, Dorothy Dudley
73. The Dyke, John Frederic Herbin
74. Only a Dad, Edgar Guest
75. June in the City, John Reed

76. Why the War?, John Gould Fletcher
77. Christmas Trees, Robert Frost
78. In a Garden, Radclyffe Hall
79. June, Margaret Deland
80. Letter in November, Sylvia Plath

81. Dusk in June, Sara Teasdale
82. There is strange musick in the stirring wood, William Lisle Bowles
83. Summer Days, Wathen Call
84. September (A Foreign Tour), J. Ashby-Sterry
85. Inaugural Poem, Richard Oakley

86. November (A London Fog), J. Ashby-Sterry
87. Bavarian Gentians, D.H. Lawrence
88. An Indian Summer Day on the Prairie, Vachel Lindsay
89. On Summer, George Moses Horton
90. October, John Reed

91. August in the City, Charles Hanson Towne
92. A Dream in November, Edmund Gosse
93. The Christmas Night, Lucy Maud Montgomery
94. A Song of Autumn, Rennell Rodd
95. October, Edward Thomas

96. Winter, Samuel Johnson
97. Card Game, Frank Prewitt
98. The woods shake in an ague-fit, Mathilde Blind
99. June (In Rotten Row), J. Ashby-Sterry
100. In a September Night, F. Wyville Home

Source: Blogger Stats

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Lana Turner has collapsed! / Frank O'Hara


Lana Turner has collapsed!
I was trotting along and suddenly
it started raining and snowing
and you said it was hailing
but hailing hits you on the head
hard so it was really snowing and
raining and I was in such a hurry
to meet you but the traffic
was acting exactly like the sky
and suddenly I see a headline
there is no snow in Hollywood
there is no rain in California
I have been to lots of parties
and acted perfectly disgraceful
but I never actually collapsed
oh Lana Turner we love you get up

Frank O'Hara (1926-1966)
from Lunch Poems, 1964

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Frank O'Hara biography

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A January Dandelion / George Marion McClellan

A January Dandelion

All Nashville is a chill. And everywhere
Like desert sand, when the winds blow,
There is each moment sifted through the air,
A powdered blast of January snow.
O! thoughtless Dandelion, to be misled
By a few warm days to leave thy natural bed,
Was folly growth and blooming over soon.
And yet, thou blasted yellow-coated gem,
Full many a heart has but a common boon
With thee, now freezing on thy slender stem.
When the heart has bloomed by the touch of love’s warm breath
Then left and chilling snow is sifted in,
It still may beat but there is blast and death
To all that blooming life that might have been.

George Marion McClellan (1860-1934)
from Poems, 1895

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

George Marion McClellan biography

Sunday, January 21, 2018

January / Folgore de San Geminiano


For January I give you vests of skins,
     And mighty fires in hall, and torches lit;
     Chambers and happy beds with all things fit;
Smooth silken sheets, rough furry counterpanes;
And sweetmeats baked; and one that deftly spins
     Warm arras; and Douay cloth, and store of it;
     And on this merry manner still to twit
The wind, when most his mastery the wind wins.
Or issuing forth at seasons in the day,
     Ye'll fling soft handfuls of the fair white snow
Among the damsels standing round, in play:
     And when you all are tired and all aglow,
Indoors again the court shall hold its sway,
    And the free Fellowship continue so.

Folgore de San Geminiano (?1270-1332?)
translated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
from The Early Italian Poets, 1861

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Folgore de San Geminiano biography
Dante Gabriel Rossetti biography

Saturday, January 20, 2018

January 1939 / Dylan Thomas

January 1939

Because the pleasure-bird whistles after the hot wires,
Shall the blind horse sing sweeter?
Convenient bird and beast lie lodged to suffer
The supper and knives of a mood.
In the sniffed and poured snow on the tip of the tongue of the year
That clouts the spittle like bubbles with broken rooms,
An enamoured man alone by the twigs of his eyes, two fires,
Camped in the drug-white shower of nerves and food,
Savours the lick of the times through a deadly wood of hair
In a wind that plucked a goose,
Nor ever, as the wild tongue breaks its tombs,
Rounds to look at the red, wagged root.
Because there stands, one story out of the bum city,
That frozen wife whose juices drift like a fixed sea
Secretly in statuary,
Shall I, struck on the hot and rocking street,
Not spin to stare at an old year
Toppling and burning in the muddle of towers and galleries
Like the mauled pictures of boys?
The salt person and blasted place
I furnish with the meat of a fable.
If the dead starve, their stomachs turn to tumble
An upright man in the antipodes
Or spray-based and rock-chested sea:
Over the past table I repeat this present grace.

Dylan Thomas (1914-1954)
from Delta, Easter 1939

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Dylan Thomas biography

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening / Robert Frost

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)
from New Hampshire, 1923

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Robert Frost biography

Saturday, January 13, 2018

January / Hilaire Belloc


It freezes – all across a soundless sky
The birds go home. The governing dark's begun:
The steadfast dark that waits not for a sun;
The ultimate dark wherein the race shall die.

Death, with his evil finger to his lip,
Leers in at human windows, turning spy
To learn the country where his rule shall lie
When he assumes perpetual generalship.

The undefeated enemy, the chill
That shall benumb the voiceful earth at last,
Is master of our moment, and has bound
The viewless wind itself. There is no sound.
It freezes. Every friendly stream is fast.
It freezes; and the graven twigs are still.

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)
from Sonnets and Verse, 1923

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Hilaire Belloc biography

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Three Thousand Miles / Louis MacNeice

Three Thousand Miles

Now he can hardly press
The heavy petals of thought,
Tired of what he wants
And sick of what he ought,
He is content to watch
The window fill with snow
Making even the Future
Seem long ago.

Knowing that in Europe
All the streets are black
And that stars of blood
Star the almanac,
One half-hour's reprieve
Drowns him in the white
Physical or spiritual
Inhuman night.

Louis MacNeice (1907-1963)
from Poetry, May 1940

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Louis MacNeice biography 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The First Snow-Fall / James Russell Lowell

The First Snow-Fall

The snow had begun in the gloaming,
  And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
  With a silence deep and white.

Every pine and fir and hemlock      
  Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
  Was ridged inch deep with pearl.

From sheds new-roofed with Carrara
  Came Chanticleer’s muffled crow,    
The stiff rails softened to swan’s-down,
  And still fluttered down the snow.

I stood and watched by the window
  The noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snow-birds,    
  Like brown leaves whirling by.

I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
  Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
  As did robins the babes in the wood.    

Up spoke our own little Mabel,
  Saying, “Father, who makes it snow?”
And I told of the good All-father
  Who cares for us here below.

Again I looked at the snow-fall,
  And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o’er our first great sorrow,
  When that mound was heaped so high.

I remembered the gradual patience
  That fell from that cloud like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
  The scar that renewed our woe.

And again to the child I whispered,
  “The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father    
  Alone can make it fall!”

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her;
  And she, kissing back, could not know
That my kiss was given to her sister,
  Folded close under deepening snow.      

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)
from Under the Willows, and other poems, 1869

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

James Russell Lowell biography

Monday, January 1, 2018

A Wish / Margaret Veley

A Wish

If I could find the Little Year,
The Happy Year, the glad New Year
If I could find him setting forth
To seek the ancient track
I'd bring him here, the Little Year,
Like a pedlar with his pack.

And all of golden brightness,
And nothing dull or black,
And all that heart could fancy,
And all that heart could lack,
Should be your share of the pedlar's ware,
When he undid his pack.

The best from out his treasure
A smile of yours would coax,
And then we'd speed him on his way,
At midnight's failing strokes;
And bid him hurry round the world,
And serve the other folks!

Margaret Veley (1843-1887)
from A Marriage of Shadows, and other poems, 1888

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Penny's Top 20 / December, 2017

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

  1.  For Christmas Day, Charles Wesley
  2.  The Sonnet, George J.Dance
  3.  A Miracle, George J. Dance
  4.  Autumn Twilight, Harry Kemp
  5.  December ('Neath Mistletoe), J. Ashby-Sterry
  6.  Good King Wenceslas, John Mason Neale
  7.  A Song for New Year's Eve, William Cullen Bryant
  8.  Christmas Trees, Robert Frost
The Christmas Night, Lucy Maud Montgomery
A Song of Autumn, Rennell Rodd 

11.  The Magi, W.B. Yeats
12.  Esthetique du Mal, Wallace Stevens
13.  Last Week in October, Thomas Hardy
14.  O Holy Night, Placide Cappeau / J.S. Dwight
15.  Penny, or Penny's Hat, George J. Dance  
16.  A Winter's Tale, D.H. Lawrence
17.  Chaos in Motion and Not in Motion, Wallace Stevens
18.  A Dream in November, Edmund Gosse
19.  Premonition, George J. Dance
20.  There Was a Time, George J. Dance

Source: Blogger, "Stats"