Summer Images

John Clare

 
Now swarthy Summer, by rude health embrowned,
Precedence takes of rosy fingered Spring;
And laughing Joy, with wild flowers prank'd, and crown'd,
      A wild and giddy thing,
And Health robust, from every care unbound,
      Come on the zephyr's wing,
      And cheer the toiling clown.
Happy as holiday-enjoying face,
Loud tongued, and "merry as a marriage bell,"
Thy lightsome step sheds joy in every place;
      And where the troubled dwell,
Thy witching charms wean them of half their cares;
      And from thy sunny spell,
      They greet joy unawares.
Then with thy sultry locks all loose and rude,
And mantle laced with gems of garish light,
Come as of wont; for I would fain intrude,
      And in the world's despite,
Share the rude wealth that thy own heart beguiles;
      If haply so I might
      Win pleasure from thy smiles.
Me not the noise of brawling pleasure cheers,
In nightly revels or in city streets;
But joys which soothe, and not distract the ears,
      That one at leisure meets
In the green woods, and meadows summer-shorn,
      Or fields, where bee-fly greets
      The ear with mellow horn.
The green-swathed grasshopper, on treble pipe,
Sings there, and dances, in mad-hearted pranks;
There bees go courting every flower that's ripe,
      On baulks and sunny banks;
And droning dragon-fly, on rude bassoon,
      Attempts to give God thanks
      In no discordant tune.
The speckled thrush, by self-delight embued,
There sings unto himself for joy's amends,
And drinks the honey dew of solitude.
      There Happiness attends
With inbred Joy until the heart o'erflow,
      Of which the world's rude friends,
      Nought heeding, nothing know.
There the gay river, laughing as it goes,
Plashes with easy wave its flaggy sides,
And to the calm of heart, in calmness shows
      What pleasure there abides,
To trace its sedgy banks, from trouble free:
      Spots Solitude provides
      To muse, and happy be.
There ruminating 'neath some pleasant bush,
On sweet silk grass I stretch me at mine ease,
Where I can pillow on the yielding rush;
      And, acting as I please,
Drop into pleasant dreams; or musing lie,
      Mark the wind-shaken trees,
      And cloud-betravelled sky.
There think me how some barter joy for care,
And waste life's summer-health in riot rude,
Of nature, nor of nature's sweets aware.
      When passions vain intrude,
These, by calm musings, softened are and still;
      And the heart's better mood
      Feels sick of doing ill.
There I can live, and at my leisure seek
Joys far from cold restraints—not fearing pride—
Free as the winds, that breathe upon my cheek
      Rude health, so long denied.
Here poor Integrity can sit at ease,
      And list self-satisfied
      The song of honey-bees.
The green lane now I traverse, where it goes
Nought guessing, till some sudden turn espies
Rude batter'd finger post, that stooping shows
      Where the snug mystery lies;
And then a mossy spire, with ivy crown,
      Cheers up the short surprise,
      And shows a peeping town.
I see the wild flowers, in their summer morn
Of beauty, feeding on joy's luscious hours;
The gay convolvulus, wreathing round the thorn,
      Agape for honey showers;
And slender kingcup, burnished with the dew
      Of morning's early hours,
      Like gold yminted new.
And mark by rustic bridge, o'er shallow stream,
Cow-tending boy, to toil unreconciled,
Absorbed as in some vagrant summer dream;
      Who now, in gestures wild,
Starts dancing to his shadow on the wall,
      Feeling self-gratified,
      Nor fearing human thrall.
Or thread the sunny valley laced with streams,
Or forests rude, and the o'ershadow'd brims
Of simple ponds, where idle shepherd dreams,
      Stretching his listless limbs;
Or trace hay-scented meadows, smooth and long,
      Where joy's wild impulse swims
      In one continued song.
I love at early morn, from new mown swath,
To see the startled frog his route pursue;
To mark while, leaping o'er the dripping path,
      His bright sides scatter dew,
The early lark that from its bustle flies,
      To hail his matin new;
      And watch him to the skies.
To note on hedgerow baulks, in moisture sprent,
The jetty snail creep from the mossy thorn,
With earnest heed, and tremulous intent,
      Frail brother of the morn,
That from the tiny bent's dew-misted leaves
      Withdraws his timid horn,
      And fearful vision weaves.
Or swallow heed on smoke-tanned chimney top,
Wont to be first unsealing Morning's eye,
Ere yet the bee hath gleaned one wayward drop
      Of honey on his thigh;
To see him seek morn's airy couch to sing,
      Until the golden sky
      Bepaint his russet wing.
Or sauntering boy by tanning corn to spy,
With clapping noise to startle birds away,
And hear him bawl to every passer by
      To know the hour of day;
While the uncradled breezes, fresh and strong,
      With waking blossoms play,
      And breathe Æolian song.
I love the south-west wind, or low or loud,
And not the less when sudden drops of rain
Moisten my glowing cheek from ebon cloud,
      Threatening soft showers again,
That over lands new ploughed and meadow grounds,
      Summer's sweet breath unchain,
      And wake harmonious sounds.
Rich music breathes in Summer's every sound;
And in her harmony of varied greens,
Woods, meadows, hedge-rows, corn-fields, all around
      Much beauty intervenes,
Filling with harmony the ear and eye;
      While o'er the mingling scenes
      Far spreads the laughing sky.
See, how the wind-enamoured aspen leaves
Turn up their silver lining to the sun!
And hark! the rustling noise, that oft deceives,
      And makes the sheep-boy run:
The sound so mimics fast-approaching showers,
      He thinks the rain's begun,
      And hastes to sheltering bowers.
But now the evening curdles dank and grey,
Changing her watchet hue for sombre weed;
And moping owls, to close the lids of day,
      On drowsy wing proceed;
While chickering crickets, tremulous and long,
      Light's farewell inly heed,
      And give it parting song.
The pranking bat its flighty circlet makes;
The glow-worm burnishes its lamp anew;
O'er meadows dew-besprent, the beetle wakes
      Inquiries ever new,
Teazing each passing ear with murmurs vain,
      As wanting to pursue
      His homeward path again.
Hark! 'tis the melody of distant bells
That on the wind with pleasing hum rebounds
By fitful starts, then musically swells
      O'er the dim stilly grounds;
While on the meadow-bridge the pausing boy
      Listens the mellow sounds,
      And hums in vacant joy.
Now homeward-bound, the hedger bundles round
His evening faggot, and with every stride
His leathern doublet leaves a rustling sound,
      Till silly sheep beside
His path start tremulous, and once again
      Look back dissatisfied,
      And scour the dewy plain.
How sweet the soothing calmness that distills
O'er the heart's every sense its opiate dews,
In meek-eyed moods and ever balmy trills!
      That softens and subdues,
With gentle Quiet's bland and sober train,
      Which dreamy eve renews
      In many a mellow strain!
I love to walk the fields, they are to me
A legacy no evil can destroy;
They, like a spell, set every rapture free
      That cheer'd me when a boy.
Play—pastime—all Time's blotting pen conceal'd,
      Comes like a new-born joy,
      To greet me in the field.
For Nature's objects ever harmonize
With emulous Taste, that vulgar deed annoys;
Which loves in pensive moods to sympathize,
      And meet vibrating joys
O'er Nature's pleasing things; nor slighting, deems
      Pastimes, the Muse employs,
      Vain and obtrusive themes.
 
Published in 1835.

Poems by This Author

Farewell by John Clare
Farewell to the bushy clump close to the river
Haymaking by John Clare
'Tis haytime and the red-complexioned sun
House or Window Flies by John Clare
These little window dwellers, in cottages and halls, were always entertaining to me
I Am! by John Clare
I am! yet what I am none cares or knows
The Old Year by John Clare
The Old Year's gone away


Further Reading

Poems for Summer
Tempest, Act V, Scene I [Where the bee sucks, there suck I]
by William Shakespeare
A Boat, Beneath a Sunny Sky
by Lewis Carroll
A Boy and His Dad
by Edgar Guest
A Green Crab's Shell
by Mark Doty
A Lesson for This Sunday
by Derek Walcott
A Path Between Houses
by Greg Rappleye
After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard
by Charles Wright
Aftermath
by Tony Connor
Alice at Seventeen: Like a Blind Child
by Darcy Cummings
Anastasia & Sandman
by Larry Levis
And You Thought You Were the Only One
by Mark Bibbins
Arms
by Richard Tayson
August
by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Back Yard
by Carl Sandburg
Bed in Summer
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Daffy Duck In Hollywood
by John Ashbery
Fall Parties
by Becca Klaver
Fat Southern Men in Summer Suits
by Liam Rector
Fishing on the Susquehanna in July
by Billy Collins
For Once, Then, Something
by Robert Frost
Ground Swell
by Mark Jarman
I know I am but summer to your heart (Sonnet XXVII)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I see the boys of summer
by Dylan Thomas
I, Up they soar
by Inger Christensen
Idyll
by Siegfried Sassoon
If You Get There Before I Do
by Dick Allen
In Summer
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
In Summer Time
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
In the Mountains on a Summer Day
by Li Po
Jack
by Maxine Kumin
Jet
by Tony Hoagland
June Light
by Richard Wilbur
Let Birds
by Linda Gregg
Long Island Sound
by Emma Lazarus
Making the Bed
by Burt Kimmelman
Midsummer
by William Cullen Bryant
Mint
by Elaine Terranova
Miracles
by Walt Whitman
Muffin of Sunsets
by Elaine Equi
My Mother on an Evening in Late Summer
by Mark Strand
On 52nd Street
by Philip Levine
On Summer
by George Moses Horton
On the Grasshopper and the Cricket
by John Keats
Poem at Thirty
by Michael Ryan
Poem for Adlai Stevenson and Yellow Jackets
by David Young
Psychoanalysis: An Elegy
by Jack Spicer
Rhode Island
by William Meredith
Sally's Hair
by John Koethe
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? (Sonnet 18)
by William Shakespeare
Solstice
by Ellen Dudley
Sonnet 7 [The soote season, that bud and bloom forth brings]
by Petrarch
South
by Jack Gilbert
Summer
by Amy Lowell
Summer at Blue Creek, North Carolina
by Jack Gilbert
Summer Holiday
by Robinson Jeffers
Summer in the South
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Summer Night, Riverside
by Sara Teasdale
Summer Nights and Days
by Rachel Hadas
Summer Past
by John Gray
Summer Song
by William Carlos Williams
Summer Stars
by Carl Sandburg
Summer X-Rays
by Nina Cassian
Swimming in the Presence of Lurid Opposition
by Sawako Nakayasu
The Abduction
by Stanley Kunitz
The Family Photograph
by Vona Groarke
The Fishermen at Guasti Park
by Maurya Simon
The Fly
by William Blake
The Idea of Order at Key West
by Wallace Stevens
The Last Slow Days of Summer
by Phillip Lopate
The Magpie's Shadow
by Yvor Winters
The Philosopher in Florida
by C. Dale Young
The Summer House
by Tony Connor
The White Room
by Charles Simic
They'll spend the summer
by Joshua Beckman
This Lime Tree Bower My Prison
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Three Songs at the End of Summer
by Jane Kenyon
Vacation
by Rita Dove
Vertumnal [excerpt]
by Stephen Yenser
Vespers
by Louise Glück
Warm Summer Sun
by Mark Twain
Wildflower
by Stanley Plumly