Trying to warm up? Peruse some summer-themed poetry

As much of America freezes, reading works of poetry centered around hot weather can provide some respite.

The temperature may plunge and the snow may fall but nothing can prevent North American readers from warming their hands around these lyrical reflections on June, July, and August.

With much of North America in the seasonal deep freeze this week, readers have not only sweaters and parkas and blankets to keep warm but an active literary imagination.

Thanks to the power of reading, we can vicariously travel to warmer times and places on the magic carpet of the written word.

With that in mind, Chapter & Verse gives its readers a small respite from the frigid temperatures gripping the continent right now courtesy of a few thoughts on summer.

Yes, we said summer – a season that now seems ages away but which continues undiminished in the great poetry that’s been written about it through the ages.

Here are five snippets of summertime verse from “A Dream of Summer: Poems for the Sensuous Season,” an anthology published by Beacon Press in 2004 and still available at the bookstore or your local library.

With the mercury abysmally low and arctic wind rattling the windows, get ready to warm your hands around these lyrical reflections on June, July and August.

"Summer is all a green air –
From the brilliant lawn, soprano
Through murmuring hedges
Accompanied by some poplars;
In fields of wheat, surprise;
Through faraway pastures, flows
To the horizon’s blues
In slow decrescendos."

From “Summer Music” by May Sarton

"Sixty-seven years, oh lord, to look at the clouds,
the trees in deep, moist summer,
daisies and morning glories
opening every morning
their small ecstatic faces –
Or maybe I should just say
How I wish I had a voice like a meadowlark’s...."

From “While I Am Writing a Poem to Celebrate Summer, the Meadowlark Begins to Sing,” by Mary Oliver

"An English summer – and a sense of form
Rides the five senses that dispute their claims.
Lawns leveled against nature, airs which warm
Each plant, perpetuate the hours and names.
We cannot see beyond the blue; no storm
Vies with the children ardent at their games."

From “An English Summer,” by Elizabeth Jennings

"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."

From “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day,” by William Shakespeare

"Summer brought fireflies in swarms.
They lit our evenings like dreams
we thought we couldn’t have.
We caught them in jars, punched
holes, carried them around for days."

From “Childhood,” by Sharan Strange

Danny Heitman is a Monitor contributor.

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