A Poem for the Summer Solstice

In Summer

by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 – 1906)

Oh, summer has clothed the earth
In a cloak from the loom of the sun!
And a mantle, too, of the skies’ soft blue,
And a belt where the rivers run.

And now for the kiss of the wind,
And the touch of the air’s soft hands,
With the rest from strife and the heat of life,
With the freedom of lakes and lands.

I envy the farmer’s boy
Who sings as he follows the plow;
While the shining green of the young blades lean
To the breezes that cool his brow.

He sings to the dewy morn,
No thought of another’s ear;
But the song he sings is a chant for kings
And the whole wide world to hear.

He sings of the joys of life,
Of the pleasures of work and rest,
From an o’erfull heart, without aim or art;
‘T is a song of the merriest.

O ye who toil in the town,
And ye who moil in the mart,
Hear the artless song, and your faith made strong
Shall renew your joy of heart.

Oh, poor were the worth of the world
If never a song were heard,—
If the sting of grief had no relief,
And never a heart were stirred.

So, long as the streams run down,
And as long as the robins trill,
Let us taunt old Care with a merry air,
And sing in the face of ill.

– from The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar (1913)


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Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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3 Responses to A Poem for the Summer Solstice

  1. One of Burns greatest love poems is an ode to a summer day, and a lady.

    by Robert Burns (1789)

    On a bank of flowers, in a summer day,
    For summer lightly drest,
    The youthful, blooming Nelly lay,
    With love and sleep opprest;
    When Willie, wand’ring thro’ the wood,
    Who for her favour oft had sued;
    He gaz’d, he wish’d
    He fear’d, he blush’d,
    And trembled where he stood.

    Her closèd eyes, like weapons sheath’d,
    Were seal’d in soft repose;
    Her lip, still as she fragrant breath’d,
    It richer dyed the rose;
    The springing lilies, sweetly prest,
    Wild-wanton kissed her rival breast;
    He gaz’d, he wish’d,
    He mear’d, he blush’d,
    His bosom ill at rest.

    Her robes, light-waving in the breeze,
    Her tender limbs embrace;
    Her lovely form, her native ease,
    All harmony and grace;
    Tumultuous tides his pulses roll,
    A faltering, ardent kiss he stole;
    He gaz’d, he wish’d,
    He fear’d, he blush’d,
    And sigh’d his very soul.

    As flies the partridge from the brake,
    On fear-inspired wings,
    So Nelly, starting, half-awake,
    Away affrighted springs;
    But Willie follow’d-as he should,
    He overtook her in the wood;
    He vow’d, he pray’d,
    He found the maid
    Forgiving all, and good.

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