We’re officially in the dead of summer, and it feels like it here in southern California. Actually, it has felt more like summer in Louisiana here in L.A. for the past couple weeks. Just gross and humid. Still, I realize that most people in America have it much worse, so for today’s topical verse I’ve chosen a poem that celebrates both summer and place, William Blake’s “To Summer.” If you haven’t read much Blake, go to your local used bookstore and hunt around until you uncover an edition of his poems that also contains some of his etchings and drawings. Then, find your nearest pleasure garden, post up under a good shade tree, and read until you fall asleep nestled up against summer’s bosom. This is what this lazy weather is for, folks.
O thou who passest thro’ our valleys in
Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat
That flames from their large nostrils! thou, O Summer,
Oft pitchedst here thy golden tent, and oft
Beneath our oaks hast slept, while we beheld
With joy, thy ruddy limbs and flourishing hair.
Beneath our thickest shades we oft have heard
Thy voice, when noon upon his fervid car
Rode o’er the deep of heaven: beside our springs
Sit down, and in our mossy valleys, on
Some bank beside a river clear, throw thy
Silk draperies off, and rush into the stream:
Our valleys love the Summer in his pride.
Our bards are famed who strike the silver wire:
Our youth are bolder than the southern swains:
Our maidens fairer in the sprightly dance:
We lack not songs, nor instruments of joy,
Nor echoes sweet, nor waters clear as heaven,
Nor laurel wreaths against the sultry heat.