Summer Poems

Our air-conditioner broke down a few weeks ago and we have had to open our windows to ventilate the house in an effort to stay cool in this late August heat. Although it felt considerably miserable cooking daily without air-conditioner, there have been some unexpected benefits to having open windows. Since we had always used air-conditioning with all windows closed before the unit broke, I never before noticed the summer symphonies orchestrated by the cicadas perpetually going on around us. Now I deliberately tune into the cicadas’ clamor and bird songs throughout the day and sometimes during the night.

This late in the summer season, the air feels divine when it is freshly cool in early morning and at night. Thanks to our open windows, I have also started noticing other lovely summer signs. When I leaned onto one of our screened-in windows yesterday to smell the fragrant breeze after the rain, I saw hummingbirds lingering at our feeder. They seem so small and dainty yet so strong. They took a few sips at the feeder, looked a while at the colorful glass and then flew high up into the roof or the maple tree. Who would think they could fly that high with such small bodies and tiny wings?

Before the summer season is growing even older, I would like to pay tribute to it, particularly to this summer of ours enjoyed through open windows, with these following poems taken from and with photos taken during our travels this summer.

PA 2

In Summer by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Oh, summer has clothed the earth
    In a cloak from the loom of the sun!
  And a mantle, too, of the skies’ soft blue,
    And a belt where the rivers run.

  And now for the kiss of the wind,
    And the touch of the air’s soft hands,
  With the rest from strife and the heat of life,
    With the freedom of lakes and lands.

  I envy the farmer’s boy
    Who sings as he follows the plow;
  While the shining green of the young blades lean
    To the breezes that cool his brow.

  He sings to the dewy morn,
    No thought of another’s ear;
  But the song he sings is a chant for kings
    And the whole wide world to hear.

  He sings of the joys of life,
    Of the pleasures of work and rest,
  From an o’erfull heart, without aim or art;
  ‘T is a song of the merriest.

  O ye who toil in the town,
    And ye who moil in the mart,
  Hear the artless song, and your faith made strong
    Shall renew your joy of heart.

  Oh, poor were the worth of the world
    If never a song were heard,–
  If the sting of grief had no relief,
    And never a heart were stirred.

  So, long as the streams run down,
    And as long as the robins trill,
  Let us taunt old Care with a merry air,
    And sing in the face of ill.

Harvard 1

The Fly by William Blake

Little fly,
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath,
And the want
Of thought is death,

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.


Long Island Sound by Emma Lazarus

I see it as it looked one afternoon
In August,—by a fresh soft breeze o’erblown.
The swiftness of the tide, the light thereon,
A far-off sail, white as a crescent moon.
The shining waters with pale currents strewn,
The quiet fishing-smacks, the Eastern cove,
The semi-circle of its dark, green grove.
The luminous grasses, and the merry sun
In the grave sky; the sparkle far and wide,
Laughter of unseen children, cheerful chirp
Of crickets, and low lisp of rippling tide,
Light summer clouds fantastical as sleep
Changing unnoted while I gazed thereon.
All these fair sounds and sights I made my own.

Newport beach 1

Bath by Amy Lowell

The day is fresh-washed and fair, and there is a smell of tulips and narcissus in the air.

The sunshine pours in at the bath-room window and bores through the water in the bath-tub in lathes and planes of greenish-white. It cleaves the water into flaws like a jewel, and cracks it to bright light.

Little spots of sunshine lie on the surface of the water and dance, dance, and their reflections wobble deliciously over the ceiling; a stir of my finger sets them whirring, reeling. I move a foot and the planes of light in the water jar. I lie back and laugh, and let the green-white water, the sun-flawed beryl water, flow over me. The day is almost too bright to bear, the green water covers me from the too bright day. I will lie here awhile and play with the water and the sun spots. The sky is blue and high. A crow flaps by the window, and there is a whiff of tulips and narcissus in the air.


Summer Morn in New Hampshire by Claude McKay

All yesterday it poured, and all night long
    I could not sleep; the rain unceasing beat
Upon the shingled roof like a weird song,
    Upon the grass like running children’s feet.
And down the mountains by the dark cloud kissed,
    Like a strange shape in filmy veiling dressed,
Slid slowly, silently, the wraith-like mist,
    And nestled soft against the earth’s wet breast.
But lo, there was a miracle at dawn!
    The still air stirred at touch of the faint breeze,
The sun a sheet of gold bequeathed the lawn,
    The songsters twittered in the rustling trees.
And all things were transfigured in the day,
    But me whom radiant beauty could not move;
For you, more wonderful, were far away,
    And I was blind with hunger for your love.

PA 1

Shall I compare thee to a summer day (Sonnet 18) by William Shakespeare

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 dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
    So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


Bed in Summer 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?


Miracles by Walt Whitman

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the
        ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

Princeton chapel 1

More summer poems here

About David and Lam

A smitten couple and loving parents in our early 40s. We have lived in 3 different countries together. We dream of living in a fourth country together after our children grow up. We love long walks in the woods, climbing mountains, boating, traveling, reading, and being together. Both David and Lam are old souls who love quietness and meaningful conversations in which we ponder the truth and mysteries of life as well as discuss philosophical and ethical matters. We especially like to enjoy the small pleasures of daily life.
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