Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Some Summer Poems

"High Summer"

I never wholly feel that summer is high
However green the trees, or loud the birds,
However movelessly eye-winking herds
Stand in field ponds, or under large trees lie,
Till I do climb all cultured pastures by,
That hedged by hedgerows studiously fretted trim,
Smile like a lady's face with lace laced prim,
And on some moor or hill that seeks the sky
Lonely and nakedly, -- utterly lie down,
And feel the sunshine throbbing on body and limb,
My drowsy brain in pleasant drunkenness swim,
Each rising thought sink back and dreamily drown,
Smiles creep o'er my face, and smother my lips, and cloy,
Each muscle sink to itself, and separately enjoy.

-- Ebenezer Jones

* * *

"You Knew Summer By Its Fragrance"

You knew summer by its fragrance,
the ancient silence
of the wall, the frenzy of the cicadas,
you invent the lightly bitter perpendicular
light, the brief shadow
in which a young urchin has dropped asleep,
the luster of his shoulder blades.
It is that that blinds you, the sunlight of the flesh.

-- Eugenio de Andrade
translated from the Portuguese by Alexis Levitin

* * *


O month whose promise and fulfilment blend,
And burst in one! it seems the earth can store
In all her roomy house no treasure more;
Of all her wealth no farthing have to spend
On fruit, when once this stintless flowering end.
And yet no tiniest flower shall fall before
It hath made ready at its hidden core
Its tithe of seed, which we many count and tend
Till harvest. Joy of blossomed love, for thee
Seems it no fairer thing can yet have birth?
No room is left for deeper ecstacy?
Watch well if seeds grow strong, to scatter free
Germs for thy future summers on the earth.
A joy which is but joy soon comes to dearth.

-- Helen Hunt Jackson

* * *

"Early Summer Hail with Rhymes in O"

Suddenly the bush was America:
dark woods, and in them like snow.
The highway was miles of bath house,
bulk steam off ice shovelled over blue.
It was parallel shoals of Mikimoto,
glazy, banked, inching with pocked cars,
blindsided with vans slewed on water.
Had I not stopped off to buy plants
just back, mine could have been similar.
With unpredictable suns evaporating
I drove by guess in ancestral country
threading the white dark of afternoon.
Hills west of hills, twigs, hail to Dubbo,
all dunes of pursed constraint exhaling Ohh.

-- Les Murray

* * *

"Summer Wind"

It is a sultry day; the sun has drank
The dew that lay upon the morning grass,
There is no rustling in the lofty elm
That canopies my dwelling, and its shade
Scarce cools me. All is silent, save the faint
And interrupted murmur of the bee,
Settling on the sick flowers, and then again
Instantly on the wing. The plants around
Feel the too potent fervors; the tall maize
Rolls up its long green leaves; the clover droops
Its tender foliage, and declines its blooms.
But far in the fierce sunshine tower the hills,
With all their growth of woods, silent and stern,
As if the scorching heat and dazzling light
Were but an element they loved. Bright clouds,
Motionless pillars of the brazen heaven; --
Their bases on the mountains -- their white tops
Shining in the far ether -- fire the air
With a reflected radiance, and make turn
The gazer's eye away. For me, I lie
Languidly in the shade, where the thick turf,
Yet virgin from the kisses of the sun,
Retains some freshness, and I woo the wind
That still delays its coming. Why so slow,
Gentle and voluble spirit of the air?
Oh, come and breathe upon the fainting earth
Coolness and life. Is it that in his caves
He hears me? See, on yonder woody ridge,
The pine is bending his proud top, and now,
Among the nearer groves, chestnut and oak
Are tossing their green boughs. He comes!
Lo, where the grassy meadow runs in waves!
The deep distressful silence of the scene
Breaks up with mingling of unnumbered sounds
And universal motion. He is come,
Shaking a shower of blossoms from the shrubs,
And bearing on the fragrance; and he brings
Music of birds, and rustling of young boughs,
And sound of swaying branches, and the voice
Of distant waterfalls. All the green herbs
Are stirring in his breath; a thousand flowers,
By the road-side and the borders of the brook,
Nod gaily to each other; glossy leaves
Are twinkling in the sun, as if the dew
Were on them yet, and silver waters break
Into small waves and sparkle as he comes.

-- William Cullen Bryant

* * *

"Summer Green"

The voluntary world is far from me
Therefore I came here, where the woods fall down
Pell-mell into the fields. The timber lies
Broken and does not care, the spread leaves hold
Like fingers, air and let it run away.

-- C. H. Sisson

* * *

"In July"

Why do I make no poems? Good my friend
Now there is silence through the summer woods,
In whose green depths and lawny solitudes
The light is dreaming; voicings clear ascend
Now from no hollow where glad rivulets wend,
But murmurings low of inarticulate moods,
Softer than stir of unfledged cushat broods,
Breathe, till o'erdrowsed the heavy flower-heads bend.
Now sleep the crystal and heart-charmed waves
Round white, sunstricken rocks the noontide long,
Or 'mid the coolness of dim lighted caves
Sway in a trance of vague deliciousness;
And I, -- I am too deep in joy's excess
For the imperfect impulse of a song.

--= Edward Dowden

* * *

"Peonies at Dusk"

White peonies blooming along the porch
send out light
while the rest of the yard grows dim.

Outrageous flowers as big as human
heads! They're staggered
by their own luxuriance; I had
to prop them up with stakes and twine.

The moist air intensifies their scent,
and the moon moves around the barn
to find out what it's coming from.

In the darkening June evening
I draw a blossom near, and bending close
search it as a woman searches
a loved one's face.

-- Jane Kenyon

* * *

"The Midday Hour of Twelve the Clock Counts O'er"

The midday hour of noon the clock counts o'er;
A sultry stillness lulls the air asleep;
The very buzz of fly is heard no more,
Nor one faint wrinkle o'er the waters creep;
Like one large sheet of glass the pool does shine
Reflecting in its face the burnt sun beam;
The very fish their sturting play decline,
Seeking the willow shadows side the stream,
And where the hawthorne branches o'er the pool
The little bird forsaking song and nest
Flutters on dripping twigs his limbs to cool
And splashes in the stream his burning breast.
O free from thunder for a sudden shower
To cherish nature in this noonday hour.

-- John Clare

* * *

"Another July"

Earth on my foot.
Bhims. Bhams. Hooplas.
Gorgeous morning cakes
Air without stripes.
Under the eyes a new fragrance of shine;
Blossoms and tints at someone's doorstep
(Schuyler eating salami in his kitchen
thinking of the empty ghost of Clare,
extending his hand with a little mayonnaise
toward it)

Downstreet a postbox blue as phlox.
Some weeding. Out.
Earth falls on my foot
Warm as death. Or
In memory of it.

-- Barbara Guest

* * *

"A Summer Night in the Beehive"

The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
To join her comrades in the braided hive,
Where, housed beside their mighty honeycomb,
They dream their polity shall long survive.
Still falls the summer night -- the browsing horse
Fills the low portal with a grassy sound
From the near paddock, while the water-course
Sends them sweet murmurs from the meadow-ground;
None but such peaceful noises break the hush,
Save Pussy, growling, in the thyme and sage,
Over the thievish mouse, in happy rage:
At last, the flowers against the threshold brush
In morning airs -- fair shines the uprisen sun,
Another day of honey has begun!

-- Charles Tennyson Turner

* * *

"Full of Summer"

This is the full of summer, this is all
Bold bumblebees have always dreamed about;
This floating is my rise that has no fall;
This steadiness my in that has no out.
And this my body's happiness -- the call
Persuading me to pause deep in today
As purple clover scents the swaying air
Bold bumblebees have always dreamed about.
I watch more ripeness ripening the way
A whirling orange blur of oriole
Blends with lake water blazing everywhere;
A hummingbird suspended at a rose
As if in mimic of the sun whose flare
Holds her eternal moment in my mind.
This is my opening that has no close;
This is my now with then now left behind
And icy wind a thought thought can forestall:
This is the full of summer, this is all.

-- Robert Pack

* * *

"In August"

Heat urges secret odors from the grass.
Blunting the edge of silence, crickets shrill.
Wings veer: inane needles of light, and pass.
Laced pools: the warm wood-shadows ebb and fill.
The wind is casual, loitering to crush
The sun upon his palate, and to draw
Pungence from pine, frank fragrances from brush,
Sucked up through thin grey boughs as through a straw.

Moss-green, fern-green and leaf and meadow-green
Are broken by the bare, bone-colored roads,
Less moved by stirring air than by unseen
soft-footed ants and meditative toads.
Summer is passing, taking what she brings:
Green scents and sounds, and quick ephemeral wings.

-- Babette Deutsch

* * *

"Once was full summer"

Once was full summer.
Down the valley blew
a cheesecloth wind,
screening the curds of cloud
from the whey of haze.

Soon the mists burned off.
Sun sipped the dew
from the long grasses,
then laid them limp with heat;
waxing towards mid-day,
made them sweat
their own juices,

Sun made his rounds
under the blue dome,
striding his realm
while all afternoon
hills cooled facing hills
with their shadows.

-- Robyn Sarah

* * *


Drunken bees cling
and doze in the cups
of the rainy hollyhocks

and afternoon is still,
the day a dull silver.

Summer malingers.
Soon she will drop
her kid gloves
and abdicate to fall,

but for now
this lull
is our cradle.

-- Robyn Sarah

* * *

And what collection of works about summer could possibly
be complete without the best of all -- Gershwin's "Summertime"?
Take your pick of Ella Fitzgerald's or Billie Holiday's versions.
Or both. Enjoy.

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