Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A LYRIC CALENDAR, by RHYS CARPENTER



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A LYRIC CALENDAR, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Black-winged robbers of the north
Last Line: All day long in the sere oak wood.
Subject(s): Autumn; Calendars; Life; Seasons; Spring; Summer; Winter; Fall


NOVEMBER

THE MESSENGERS

BLACK-WINGED robbers of the North,
Flown from wintry silence down,
What far greeting sends you forth
To this southern town?

'The snow lies on the northern plains;
No waters run;
Frozen fast, the autumn rains;
Fog-obscured, the sun.
We saw two men in the waste alone,
Hunger-drawn, famine-eyed;
The flesh scarce clung to the weary bone.
A sled they drew with stumble and drag;
Each step they seemed to fail and flag,
Yet never a word they cried.
They were the richest of the earth,
Hunger-drawn, famine-eyed;
Ha, their riches brought their worth!
On the snow-swept waste they died.
South are we come to their native town,
To their roof-beam high we cling;
We are flown from the frozen silence down,
This is the greeting that we bring.'

DECEMBER

SPINNING-SONG FOR WINTER

IN the woods the brown bird sang
Long and long ago:
Now the leafless branches hang
Heavy with the snow.
Ah, once, once, the nightingale,
And our lips together clinging....
Hark the old unhappy tale
That the winds are singing,
Adieu, adieu, so runs the year
And so runs love away;
Maiden, spare thy useless tear,
Mid-December is not May.
Hark the wind, the dreary wind
Through the branches sighing.
Ah, that life is so unkind....
Hark the wind, the dreary wind,
Dying ... love is dying.

JANUARY

NEW ENGLAND

SNOW-FALL, snow-fall,
Through the winter night,
Field and road are covered all,
Gabled roofs are white.
Grey and still, o'er vale and hill
Struggling day is come;
But no more the robins call,
Sparrows chirping from the wall
Noisy, eager, flock no more
To the open kitchen door
Quarrelling for every crumb.
Cheery voices all are dumb,
Every bird has taken flight,
Save the villain crow alone,
Stalking hungry, black as night.
Dancing streams run thin and small
Under frosty bank and stone;
By the bridge the cedar tall
Muffled with a snowy pall
Stands o'ergrown.

Light hath vanished, joy hath fled,
Snow and ice, the grief of God,
Out of highest heaven shed,
Hide the cold, the lifeless sod.
Hark, the sleigh-bells from afar
Ringing silver as a star;
Nodding horses, plumed and proud,
Jingle by. Now stirs the air,
Sudden sun hath torn the cloud.
Look, the lifted skies are fair!
Oh, the sunshine and the gleam
Caught from hidden edges bright;
Tree and roof and meadow seem
All a-glitter with delight.

Sunlight, sunlight,
Over all the snow,
Shining bright and sparkling white,
And never a wind to blow.
Come out, come out, the day is fair,
The blood runs fast as wine,
And laughter shrill is on the air
And children's faces shine.
The golden sun, the pleasant chime
Of sleigh-bells far away—
What! stay indoors at such a time?
Come out, come out, and play!

FEBRUARY

THE SUN'S RETURN

WINTER with her haggard eyes
Fled through vale and hollow,
Heard Spring's laughter and his cries
Follow, ever follow.
Weary-breasted, as a deer
To the cover taking,
Sure, he cannot enter here,
Through the thicket breaking.
Deep within a gloomy dell
Crouching there aquiver,
Ah, poor heart! and what befell
Where the aspens shiver?
To his breast he caught her fast,
Kissed her mouth and soft compelled her;
'Woe is me!' she cried aghast,
Dead within his arms he held her.

MARCH

THE GOOSE-GIRL

THE geese are flown north!
To-day they went by
Overhead, overhead,
In the blue of the sky.
Oh, the gladness of wing
And the speed as they flew
To the North, to the North,
The wide heaven through!

Who flies unseen,
Who urges their wing?
It is she, it is she,
The return of the Spring!
Northward, northward,
Sweet spirit, fly,
With the wild birds north
In the blue of the sky!

APRIL

FIELDS IN VAPOUR

WAKE, awake, 'tis April morning,
Throw thy window wide!
Comes the sun with early light
Misty grey and silver white
Meadow-land and field adorning
In the garments of a bride.
Hark! from yonder hedgerow sing
Wren and sparrow deft of wing;
From the sleeping meadow rise
Larks against the fluttering skies;
Cuckoo from the wood gives warning,
Through the trellis sunbeams glide:
Wake, awake, 'tis April morning,
Throw thy window wide!

MAY

EPITHALAMIUM

TO-NIGHT, to-night we bring thy bride
With delight and laughter;
Happiness shall here abide
Now and ever after.
Through the twilight of the May
Flower-engarlanded and gay
To-night, to-night we bring thy bride
With delight and laughter.

Cherish her and keep her fast,
In strong arms enfold her,
Spell and incantation cast
Lest aught ill should hold her;
To thy hands we give her now
Chaste and fair, of maiden brow;
Cherish her and keep her fast,
In strong arms enfold her.

Faery portals shall swing wide,
Magic lands shall call you
Beckoning with wind and tide;
Phantoms shall enthrall you,
Songs that dance on mountain height,
Shadows and unearthly light;
Faery portals shall swing wide,
Magic lands shall call you.

Night's processional moves past,
Sleep and silence bringing;
Now at last and now at last
Quench the fires of singing.
Daylight is a lamp outworn,
Flame-unkindled till the morn;
Night's processional moves past,
Sleep and silence bringing.

JUNE

YOUTH AND SUMMER

HE rode amid the laughing glen,—
The thrushes sang between,—
When empty were the towns of men
And all the woods were green,
When billowed clouds like galleons high
Were anchored in the windless sky.

The growing earth with fancy wild
Her flowered carpets set,
With phantasy she sweet beguiled
Each wanderer she met,
And ever from her treasure drew
Some pattern bright or colour new.

And as he rode by upland turn
To where the mountains stand,
He felt the golden sunlight burn
Like kisses on his hand;
And turning back his eager head,—
Lo, all the earth beneath him spread!

JULY

NOON IN THE ORCHARD

FOR them beneath the midday sun
No dream of autumn gathers sere,
The yellow grain is not begun,
And love and summer-days are here.
From heaven's unclouded burning height
The lark's full-throated sweet delight
Is shed about them, pure, intense,
As sweet as is the scent that drips
From April blossom's broken lips.

But lo, they look not on the sun
Nor on the sky's unshaken Clear,
The lark's untroubled orison
Is but a voice they may not hear;
Through dream-enshadowed leaf their sight
Sees not the orchard lying white,
For like a veil upon their sense
The heat between their eye-lids slips
And burning love makes fast their lips.

AUGUST

SLEEP-TIME SONG

SHEEP on the hill, fox in the wood, birds in the air,
Come to your rest,
Sheep to your pen, fox to your lair,
Birds to your nest.
The blue from the sky, the sun from his stair
Are gone, and the light from the West.

Wolf on the plain, gather your pack, hungry and lean,
Eyes in the dark;
Will o' the wisp, glow-worm and sheen,
Kindle your spark;
The night-wind blows, and the air is keen;
Hush! for the watch-dogs bark.

Owls of the night, fly through the gloom, silent of wing;
Shadow, be deep.
Bat, from your cave! elf, to your ring
Tip-toe and creep.
Nothing can harm you, love. Now while I sing
Softly, softly—sleep.

SEPTEMBER

THE SUN'S CROSSING

O SUMMER, summer, whither art thou fled?
September moves with changing hues,
The yellow leaves are falling,
In bush and thicket birds are calling
Their sorrowful adieus,
The flowers are dead.
On cloudy height and barren hill
The winds blow cold, the sky is chill:
O summer, summer, whither art thou fled?

O winter, winter cold, I fear thy hand.
I fear thy shroud of mist and cloud,
I fear thy sullen morning,
When through the reed the wind cries warning
And autumn trees are bowed;
When frozen stand
Unflowered mead and rutted way
And snowy skies sink ashen grey,
O winter, winter cold, I fear thy hand.

OCTOBER

THE FOREST IN ARCADIA

SOFTLY, softly the rain began,
And all day long in the sere oak wood
From brown leaf down, the raindrops ran
And grey in the bracken the waters stood
I rode all day through the wild and sere
And ever and ever I seemed to hear
The whisper of rain half understood,
'The death of the year, oh, the death of the year!'
All day long in the sere oak wood.





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