Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Poetry about Summer's End: Playlist for September 5, 2014



 


September Midnight 


By  Sara Teasdale  


 


 


Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer,


 


Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing,


 


Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects,


 


       Ceaseless, insistent.   


 


 


The grasshopper’s horn, and far-off, high in the maples,


 


The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence


 


Under a moon waning and worn, broken,


 


       Tired with summer.   


 


 


Let me remember you, voices of little insects,


 


Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters,


 


Let me remember, soon will the winter be on us,


 


       Snow-hushed and heavy.   


 


 


Over my soul murmur your mute benediction,


 


While I gaze, O fields that rest after harvest,


 


As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to,


 


       Lest they forget them.


 


Originally published in Poetry, March 1914.


 


 


 


 


 


 


All Summer Long 

By  Carol Frost  

From "Love and Scorn: New and Collected Poems" © 2000 Love and Scorn: New and Collected Poems. © 2000Love and Scorn: New and Collected Poems. © 2000


 


 


The dogs eat hoof slivers and lie under the porch.


 


A strand of human hair hangs strangely from a fruit tree


 


like a cry in the throat. The sky is clay for the child who is past


 


being tired, who wanders in waist-deep


 


grasses. Gnats rise in a vapor,


 


in a long mounting whine around her forehead and ears.


 


 


The sun is an indistinct moon. Frail sticks


 


of grass poke her ankles,


 


and a wet froth of spiders touches her legs


 


like wet fingers. The musk and smell


 


of air are as hot as the savory


 


terrible exhales from a tired horse.


 


 


The parents are sleeping all afternoon,


 


and no one explains the long uneasy afternoons.


 


She hears their combined breathing and swallowing


 


salivas, and sees their sides rising and falling


 


like the sides of horses in the hot pasture.


 


 


At evening a breeze dries and crumbles


 


the sky and the clouds float like undershirts


 


and cotton dresses on a clothesline. Horses


 


rock to their feet and race or graze.


 


Parents open their shutters and call


 


the lonely, happy child home.


 


The child who hates silences talks and talks


 


of cicadas and the manes of horses.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


The End of Summer 


By  Rachel Hadas  
 


From "Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems" Copyright © 1998 Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1998


 


 


Sweet smell of phlox drifting across the lawn—


 


an early warning of the end of summer.


 


August is fading fast, and by September


 


the little purple flowers will all be gone.


 


 


Season, project, and vacation done.


 


One more year in everybody’s life.


 


Add a notch to the old hunting knife


 


Time keeps testing with a horny thumb.


 


 


Over the summer months hung an unspoken


 


aura of urgency. In late July


 


galactic pulsings filled the midnight sky


 


like silent screaming, so that, strangely woken,


 


 


we looked at one another in the dark,


 


then at the milky magical debris


 


arcing across, dwarfing our meek mortality.


 


There were two ways to live: get on with work,


 


 


redeem the time, ignore the imminence


 


of cataclysm; or else take it slow,


 


be as tranquil as the neighbors’ cow


 


we love to tickle through the barbed wire fence


 


(she paces through her days in massive innocence,


 


or, seeing green pastures, we imagine so).


 


 


In fact, not being cows, we have no choice.


 


Summer or winter, country, city, we


 


are prisoners from the start and automatically,


 


hemmed in, harangued by the one clamorous voice.


 


 


Not light but language shocks us out of sleep


 


ideas of doom transformed to meteors


 


we translate back to portents of the wars


 


looming above the nervous watch we keep.


 


 


 


.


 


 


Lake Echo, Dear


By  C. D. Wright 


 


from "Steal Away: New and Selected Poems" Copyright © 2002


 


 


Is the woman in the pool of light  


 


really reading or just staring  


 


at what is written


 


 


Is the man walking in the soft rain  


 


naked or is it the rain  


 


that makes his shirt transparent


 


 


The boy in the iron cot  


 


is he asleep or still


 


fingering the springs underneath


 


 


Did you honestly believe  


 


three lives could be complete


 


 


The bottle of green liquid  


 


on the sill is it real


 


 


The bottle on the peeling sill  


 


is it filled with green


 


 


Or is the liquid an illusion  


 


of fullness


 


 


How summer’s children turn  


 


into fish and rain softens men


 


 


How the elements of summer


 


nights bid us to get down with each other  


 


on the unplaned floor


 


 


And this feels painfully beautiful  


 


whether or not


 


it will change the world one drop


 


 


 


 


Three Songs at the End of Summer
 


By  Jane Kenyon  


 


 


A second crop of hay lies cut  


 


and turned. Five gleaming crows  


 


search and peck between the rows.


 


They make a low, companionable squawk,  


 


and like midwives and undertakers  


 


possess a weird authority.


 


 


Crickets leap from the stubble,  


 


parting before me like the Red Sea.  


 


The garden sprawls and spoils.


 


 


Across the lake the campers have learned  


 


to water ski. They have, or they haven’t.  


 


Sounds of the instructor’s megaphone  


 


suffuse the hazy air. “Relax! Relax!”


 


 


Cloud shadows rush over drying hay,  


 


fences, dusty lane, and railroad ravine.  


 


The first yellowing fronds of goldenrod  


 


brighten the margins of the woods.


 


 


Schoolbooks, carpools, pleated skirts;  


 


water, silver-still, and a vee of geese.


 


 


*


 


 


The cicada’s dry monotony breaks  


 


over me. The days are bright  


 


and free, bright and free.


 


 


Then why did I cry today  


 


for an hour, with my whole  


 


body, the way babies cry?


 


 


*


 


 


A white, indifferent morning sky,  


 


and a crow, hectoring from its nest  


 


high in the hemlock, a nest as big   


 


as a laundry basket ...


 


                                    In my childhood  


 


I stood under a dripping oak,


 


while autumnal fog eddied around my feet,  


 


waiting for the school bus


 


with a dread that took my breath away.


 


 


The damp dirt road gave off  


 


this same complex organic scent.


 


 


I had the new books—words, numbers,  


 


and operations with numbers I did not  


 


comprehend—and crayons, unspoiled  


 


by use, in a blue canvas satchel


 


with red leather straps.


 


 


Spruce, inadequate, and alien  


 


I stood at the side of the road.  


 


It was the only life I had.


 


 


 

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