Autumn Twilight (View of Copway Peak, Mount Chocorua, New Hampshire). Thomas Cole. 1834.



Lucy Maud Montgomery


From vales of dawn hath Day pursued the Night

Who mocking fled, swift-sandalled, to the west,

Nor ever lingered in her wayward flight

With dusk-eyed glance to recompense his quest,

But over crocus hills and meadows gray

Sped fleetly on her way.


Now when the Day, shorn of his failing strength,

Hath fallen spent before the sunset bars,

The fair, wild Night, with pity touched at length,

Crowned with her chaplet of out-blossoming stars,

Creeps back repentantly upon her way

To kiss the dying Day.


Lucy Maud Montgomery, who wrote a number of nature poems, is best known for the classic novel Anne of Green Gables. Like Dunbar’s “Dawn,” recently featured on Wrestle with the Angel, Montgomery describes the meeting of day and night as a kiss.

To the Skylark

Song of the Lark (In the Field). Winslow Homer.


To the Skylark

William Wordsworth


Ethereal minstrel! pilgrim of the sky!

Dost thou despise the earth where cares abound?

Or, while thy wings aspire, are heart and eye

Both with thy nest on the dewy ground?

Thy nest which thou canst drop into at will,

Those quivering wings composed, that music still!


To the last point of vision, and beyond

Mount, daring warbler!—that love-prompted strain

—Twixt thee and thine a never-failing bond—

Thrills not the less the bosom of the plain:

Yet might’st thou seem, proud privilege! to sing

All independent of the leafy Spring.


Leave to the nightingale her shady wood;

A privacy of glorious light is thine;

When thou dost pour upon the world a flood

Of harmony, with instinct more divine;

Type of the wise who soar but never roam;

True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home!


A Little Poetry—If you enjoyed this poem by Wordsworth, you may want to compare it with a similar poem (“Song”) by William Wadsworth Longfellow.

A Fine Picture—Although the lark does not appear in Winslow Homer’s painting, clearly its song has thrilled the “bosom of the plain.”

His Content in the Country

Meal. Jane Steen. 1650.


His Content in the Country

Robert Herrick


Here, here I live with what my board

Can with the smallest cost afford;

Though ne’er so mean the viands be,

They well content my Prue and me:

Or pea or bean, or wort or beet,

Whatever comes, Content makes sweet.

Here we rejoice, because no rent

We pay for our poor tenement;

Wherein we rest, and never fear

The landlord or the usurer.

The quarter-day does ne’er affright

Our peaceful slumbers in the night:

We eat our own, and batten more,

Because we feed on no man’s score;

But pity those whose flanks grow great,

Swell’d with the lard of other’s meat.

We bless our fortunes, when we see

Our own beloved privacy;

And like our living, where we’re known

To very few, or else to none.


Prew was Herrick’s housemaid Prewdence Baldwin.

‘Viands’ is food. A ‘usurer’ is one who lends money at an unreasonable rate of interest. The ‘quarter-day’ was one of four days of the year regarded as the beginning of a new season or quarter; quarterly payments were due then. A ‘score’ is a running account. ‘Lard’ is ‘fat,’ specifically of pork.

My Orchard in Linden Lea

Under the Apple Trees. Sir Walter Westley Rusell.


My Orchard in Linden Lea

William Barnes (Common English version)


Within the woodlands, flow’ry gladed,

By the oak tree’s mossy root,

The shining grass-blades, timber-shaded,

Now do quiver under foot.

And birds do whistle overhead,

And water’s bubbling in its bed,

And there for me the apple tree

Do lean down low in Linden Lea.


When leaves that lately were a-springing

Now do fade within the copse,

And painted birds do hush their singing

Up upon the timber tops,

And brown-leav’d fruit’s a-turning red

In cloudless sunshine overhead,

With fruit for me the apple tree

Do lean down low in Linden Lea.


Let other folk make money faster

In the air of dark-roomed towns—

I don’t dread a peevish master,

Though no man do heed my frowns.

I be free to go abroad

Or take again my homeward road

To where for me the apple tree

Do lean down low in Linden Lea.


A Little Poetry—The original poem, “My Orcha’d in Linden Lea,” by William Barnes was written in the Dorset dialect. It begins “‘Ithin the woodlands, flow’ry gleaded;/ By the woak tree’s mossy moot,/ The sheenan grass bleads, timber sheaded,/ Now do quiver under voot.”

A Little Music—The composer Ralph Vaughan Williams set to music this poem in common English and another by Barnes—”In the Spring.” You can listen to a beautiful choral recording of the song “Linden Lea” at You Tube. <>

Meditation XVII

Seal Rock, California. Albert Bierstadt. 1872.


Meditation XVII

John Donne

No man is an island, entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thine own or of thine friend’s were. Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.


For Charlotte

Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Winslow. John Singelton Copley. 1773.


For Charlotte

Richard Wilbur


After the clash of elevator gates

And the long sinking, she emerges where,

A slight thing in the morning’s crosstown glare,

She looks up toward the window where he waits,

Then in a fleeting taxi joins the rest

Of the huge traffic bound forever west.


On such grand scale do lovers say good-bye—

Even this other pair whose high romance

Had only the duration of a dance,

And who, now taking leave with stricken eye,

See each in each a whole new life forgone.

For them, above the darkling clubhouse lawn,


Bright Perseids flash and crumble; while for these

Who part now on the dock, weighed down by grief

And baggage, yet with something like relief,

It takes three thousand miles of knitting seas

To cancel out their crossing, and unmake

The amorous rough and tumble of their wake.


We are denied, my love, their fine tristesse

And bittersweet regrets, and cannot share

The frequent vistas of their large despair,

Where love and all are swept to nothingness;

Still, there’s a certain scope in that long love

Which constant spirits are the keepers of,


And which, though taken to be tame and staid,

Is a wild sostenuto of the heart,

A passion joined to courtesy and art

Which has the quality of something made,

Like a good fiddle, like the rose’s scent,

Like a rose window or the firmament.


Witnessing the tumultuous end of a young relationship, Wilbur reflects thankfully on the beauty and artistry of a long marriage. Marriage involves not only love, but care and craftsmanship. It is a lovely reminder to a culture that prefers the fruit punch of transient romances to the fine wine of faithful marriage.

Pretty Words

Elinor Wylie. Nickolas Murray.

Pretty Words

Elinor Wylie


Poets make pets of pretty, docile words:

I love smooth words, like gold-enamelled fish

Which circle slowly with a silken swish,

And tender ones, like downy-feathered birds:

Words shy and dappled, deep-eyed deer in herds,

Come to my hand, and playful if I wish,

Or purring softly at a silver dish,

Blue Persian kittens, fed on cream and curds.


I love bright words, words up and singing early;

Words that are luminous in the dark, and sing;

Warm, lazy words, white cattle under trees;

I love words opalescent, cool, and pearly,

Like midsummer moths, and honied like bees,

Gilded and sticky with a little sting.


Today is the birthday of Elinor Wylie, who was born on September 7, 1885. This poem by her has always been one of my favorites. The alliteration here is mesmerizing.

We Wear the Mask

Conversation. Albert Bloch. 1950.


We Wear the Mask

Paul Laurence Dunbar


We wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—

This debt we pay to human guilde;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

And mouth with myriad subtleties.


Why should the world be over-wise,

In counting all our tears and sighs?

Nay, let them only see us, while

We wear the mask.


We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries

To thee from tortured souls arise.

We sing, but oh the slay is vile

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;

But let the world dream otherwise,

We wear the mask.


Bloch’s expressionist painting and Dunbar’s moving poem about the plight of African Americans share a common theme of social deception.