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St. Martin’s Summer

As swallows turning backward

When half-way o’er the sea,

At one word’s trumpet summons

They came again to me –

The hopes I had forgotten

Came back again to me.

 

I know not which to credit,

O lady of my heart!

Your eyes that bade me linger,

Your words that bade us part –

I know not which to credit,

My reason or my heart.

 

But be my hopes rewarded,

Or be they but in vain,

I have dreamed a golden vision,

I have gathered in the grain –

I have dreamed a golden vision,

I have not lived in vain.

 

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

 

In British England, “St. Martin’s Summer” was the term used to refer to the period of sunny, warm weather in autumn, which became known in America as “Indian Summer” in the 20th century. The celebration of St. Martin’s Day is a rural tradition with ancient origins and is observed on either September 29 or November 11.

 

"Summer of Saint Martin" by John Everett Millais, 1877

“Summer of Saint Martin” by John Everett Millais, 1877

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Fall Equinox

I know it’s midnight when the little owls

Commence their muted woodwinds in the pines;

It is September. Pegasus inclines

His great square high where late the heavenly fowls,

The Swan and Eagle, flew the galactine.

I know it’s midnight of the equinox

And dark and light are even – and the flocks

Will feel the sun stand southward on the Line.

The owls’ soft conversation soon is done,

And I am listening to the heavy dark;

In me the slow withdrawal of the sun

Crossing athwart the night has left its mark

That no September’s end shall need henceforth –

I turn with the equator to the north.

 

                               ~ Orrick Johns

 

"Two Owls" by Thomas Moran, 1917

“Two Owls” by Thomas Moran, 1917

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Summer begins to have the look

Peruser of enchanting Book

Reluctantly but sure perceives

A gain upon the backward leaves –

 

Autumn begins to be inferred

By millinery of the cloud

Or deeper color in the shawl

That wraps the everlasting hill.

 

The eye begins its avarice

A meditation chastens speech

Some Dyer of a distant tree

Resumes his gaudy industry.

 

Conclusion is the course of All

At most to be perennial

And then elude stability

Recalls to immortality.

 

~ Emily Dickinson, from Poems by Emily Dickinson, Volume 2

 

"Olvasó nő az erdőben" ("Reading Woman in the Forest") by Benczúr Gyula, 1875

“Olvasó nő az erdőben” (“Reading Woman in the Forest”) by Benczúr Gyula, 1875

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End of Summer

An agitation of the air,

A perturbation of the light

Admonished me the unloved year

Would turn on its hinge that night.

 

I stood in the disenchanted field

Amid the stubble and the stones,

Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me

The song of my marrow-bones.

 

Blue poured into summer blue,

A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,

The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew

That part of my life was over.

 

Already the iron door of the north

Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows

Order their populations forth,

And a cruel wind blows.

 

~ Stanley Kunitz

 

"Summer at Shinnecock Hills" by William Merritt Chase, 1891

“Summer at Shinnecock Hills” by William Merritt Chase, 1891

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When you are already here

you appear to be only

a name that tells of you

whether you are present or not

 

and for now it seems as though

you are still summer

still the high familiar

endless summer

yet with a glint

of bronze in the chill mornings

and the late yellow petals

of the mullein fluttering

on the stalks that lean

over their broken

shadows across the cracked ground

 

but they all know

that you have come

the seed heads of the sage

the whispering birds

with nowhere to hide you

to keep you for later

 

you

who fly with them

 

you who are neither

before nor after

you who arrive

with blue plums

that have fallen through the night

 

perfect in the dew

 

~ W. S. Merwin

 

Hungarian Mullein by Sten

Hungarian Mullein by Sten

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September

The breezes taste

Of apple peel.

The air is full

Of smells to feel –

Ripe fruit, old footballs,

Burning brush,

New books, erasers,

Chalk, and such.

The bee, his hive,

Well-honeyed hum,

And Mother cuts

Chrysanthemums.

Like plates washed clean

With suds, the days

Are polished with

A morning haze.

 

~ John Updike

 

"Chrysanthemums" by Daniel Ridgway Knight, circa 1898

“Chrysanthemums” by Daniel Ridgway Knight, circa 1898

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Blackberry-Picking

Late August, given heavy rain and sun

For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.

At first, just one, a glossy purple clot

Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.

You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet

Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it

Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for

Picking.  Then red ones inked up and that hunger

Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots

Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.

Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills

We trekked and picked until the cans were full,

Until the tinkling bottom had been covered

With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned

Like a plate of eyes.  Our hands were peppered

With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.

 

We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.

But when the bath was filled we found a fur,

A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.

The juice was stinking too.  Once off the bush

The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.

I always felt like crying.  It wasn’t fair

That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.

Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

 

                         ~ Seamus Heaney, died on this day in 2013

 

"Blackberry Picking" by John George Brown, 1875

“Blackberry Picking” by John George Brown, 1875

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