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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