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.
Childhood returns with summer. It is strange
That such a season brings one’s memories back.
Springs have their homesickness, autumns arrange
The sweet nostalgias that we long to lack.
But summer is itself; it’s we who change
And lay our childhoods on the golden stack.
My fingers rest and eyes concern their sight
Simply with what would live were I not here.
It is the concentration of the light
That shows the other side of pain and fear.
I watch, incredulous of such delight,
Wanting the meaning not the landscape clear.
Was it for this the breath once breathed upon
The waters that we rose from? I can see
Only a summer with its shadows gone,
Skies that refuse an alien dignity.
But gardens, gardens echo. What sun shone
To make this truce with pain and ecstasy?
~ “An English Summer” by Elizabeth Jennings, included in Robert Atwan’s anthology A Dream of Summer: Poems for the Sensuous Season (Beacon Press, 2004)