"Comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat..."
June 19, 2009 3:18 PM   Subscribe

Tell me of your favorite poem to welcome the summer.

This Sunday, June 21st, is the Summer Solstice. I generally like to celebrate this by watching the sunrise with my sweetie. Then we send a picture of that morning rising sun, a bit of music, and a nice poem to our friends and family.

So! Tell me your favorite poems to welcome the summer. They don't have to be about summer per se - themes of growing and growth, ripeness, warmth and light, and, indeed, the recurring proposition of all poetry which is to stop & be present right now to fullness of all things - are all possible and encouraged.

Li Young Lee's From Blossoms is a pretty damn perfect example of what I'm looking for. But then, also, William Stafford's You Reading This, Be Ready ... and also, Saint Francis and the Sow (warning: autoplay sound) by Galway Kinnell.
posted by jammy to Writing & Language (13 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Frost's Nothing Gold Can Stay reminds me to appreciate it.
posted by applemeat at 3:31 PM on June 19, 2009

themes of growing and growth, ripeness, warmth and light, and, indeed, the recurring proposition of all poetry which is to stop & be present right now to fullness of all things

Wendell Berry's Collected Poems is full of exactly what you describe, particularly the poems from Farming: A Handbook and The Country of Marriage, which include the great series of poems about the Mad Farmer.

"The Familiar" is a good short one:

The hand is risen from the earth,
the sap risen, leaf come back to branch,
bird to nest crotch. Beans lift
their heads up in the row. The known
returns to be known again. Going
and coming back, it forms its curves,
a nerved ghostly anatomy in the air.

And here's the third, final stanza of "Planting Crocuses":

My mind pressing in
through the earth's
dark motion toward
bloom, I thought of you,
glad there is no escape.
It is this we will be
turning and re-
turning to.

Great stuff.
posted by mediareport at 3:56 PM on June 19, 2009

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd:
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd.
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest: —
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

William Shakespeare
posted by netbros at 4:12 PM on June 19, 2009

The following, by Edna St. Vincent Millay, is my "summer" poem.

I dreamed I moved among the Elysian fields,
In converse with sweet women long since dead;
And out of blossoms which that meadow yields
I wove a garland for your living head.
Danai, that was the vessel for a day
Of golden Jove, I saw, and at her side,
Whom Jove the Bull desired and bore away,
Europa stood, and the Swan's featherless bride.
All these were mortal women, yet all these
Above the ground had had a god for guest;
Freely I walked beside them and at ease,
Addressing them, by them again addressed,
And marvelled nothing, for remembering you,
Wherefore I was among them well I knew.
posted by greekphilosophy at 4:35 PM on June 19, 2009

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
posted by Verdant at 4:54 PM on June 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

For welcoming summer, how about April in Maine?
posted by jeb at 5:27 PM on June 19, 2009

Anna Akhmatova's "The Sentence"

And the stone word fell
On my still-living breast.
Never mind, I was ready.
I will manage somehow.

Today I have so much to do:
I must kill memory once and for all,
I must turn my soul to stone,
I must learn to live again—

Unless . . . Summer's ardent rustling
Is like a festival outside my window.
For a long time I've foreseen this
Brilliant day, deserted house.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 5:45 PM on June 19, 2009

Happiness, Raymond Carver

So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.

When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.

They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren't saying anything, these boys.

I think if they could, they would take
each other's arm.
It's early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.

They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.

Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn't enter into this.

Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.
posted by faineant at 8:45 PM on June 19, 2009

This is an excerpt from Andrew Marvell's Thoughts on a Garden:

What wondrous life in this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach;
Stumbling on melons, as I pass,
Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass.
posted by twirlypen at 5:17 AM on June 20, 2009

Not Ideas About the Thing But the Thing Itself
Wallace Stevens

At the earliest ending of winter,
In March, a scrawny cry from outside
Seemed like a sound in his mind.

He knew that he heard it,
A bird's cry, at daylight or before,
In the early March wind.

The sun was rising at six,
No longer a battered panache above snow...
It would have been outside.

It was not from the vast ventriloquism
Of sleep's faded papier-mache...
The sun was coming from the outside.

That scrawny cry--It was
A chorister whose c preceded the choir.
It was part of the colossal sun,

Surrounded by its choral rings,
Still far away. It was like
A new knowledge of reality.
posted by jimfl at 7:40 AM on June 20, 2009

From my childhood:

Bed in Summer
(From A Child's Garden of Verses)
by Robert Louis Stevenson

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?
posted by wallaby at 8:46 AM on June 20, 2009

Francis Ledwidge

Broom out the floor now, lay the fender by,
And plant this bee-sucked bough of woodbine there,
And let the window down. The butterfly
Floats in upon the sunbeam, and the fair
Tanned face of June, the nomad gipsy, laughs
Above her widespread wares, the while she tells
The farmers' fortunes in the fields, and quaffs
The water from the spider-peopled wells.

The hedges are all drowned in green grass seas,
And bobbing poppies flare like Elmo's light,
While siren-like the pollen-stained bees
Drone in the clover depths. And up the height
The cuckoo's voice is hoarse and broke with joy.
And on the lowland crops the crows make raid,
Nor fear the clappers of the farmer's boy,
Who sleeps, like drunken Noah, in the shade.

And loop this red rose in that hazel ring
That snares your little ear, for June is short
And we mus joy in it and dance and sing,
And from her bounty draw her rosy worth.
Ay! soon the swallows will be flying south,
The wind wheel north to gather in the snow,
Even roses spilt on youth's red mouth
Will soon blow down the road all roses go.
posted by corey flood at 2:54 PM on June 20, 2009

thanks for the poems, everyone - some beautiful work here

happy summer solstice!
posted by jammy at 8:47 AM on June 21, 2009

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