Sunday, August 14, 2016

Léonie Adams

'Country Summer':

Now the rich cherry, whose sleek wood,  
And top with silver petals traced  
Like a strict box its gems encased,  
Has spilt from out that cunning lid,  
All in an innocent green round,  
Those melting rubies which it hid;  
With moss ripe-strawberry-encrusted,  
So birds get half, and minds lapse merry  
To taste that deep-red, lark’s-bite berry,  
And blackcap bloom is yellow-dusted. 

The wren that thieved it in the eaves  
A trailer of the rose could catch  
To her poor droopy sloven thatch, 
And side by side with the wren’s brood— 
O lovely time of beggar’s luck— 
Opens the quaint and hairy bud;  
And full and golden is the yield  
Of cows that never have to house,  
But all night nibble under boughs,  
Or cool their sides in the moist field. 

Into the rooms flow meadow airs, 
The warm farm baking smell’s blown round.  
Inside and out, and sky and ground  
Are much the same; the wishing star,  
Hesperus, kind and early born,  
Is risen only finger-far; 
All stars stand close in summer air, 
And tremble, and look mild as amber;  
When wicks are lighted in the chamber,  
They are like stars which settled there. 

Now straightening from the flowery hay,  
Down the still light the mowers look,  
Or turn, because their dreaming shook,  
And they waked half to other days,  
When left alone in the yellow stubble  
The rusty-coated mare would graze.  
Yet thick the lazy dreams are born,  
Another thought can come to mind,  
But like the shivering of the wind,  
Morning and evening in the corn.

Louise Glück

An interesting piece called 'Vespers [In your extended absence, you permit me]':

In your extended absence, you permit me 
use of earth, anticipating 
some return on investment. I must report 
failure in my assignment, principally 
regarding the tomato plants. 
I think I should not be encouraged to grow 
tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold 
the heavy rains, the cold nights that come 
so often here, while other regions get 
twelve weeks of summer. All this 
belongs to you: on the other hand, 
I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots 
like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart 
broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly 
multiplying in the rows. I doubt 
you have a heart, in our understanding of 
that term. You who do not discriminate 
between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence, 
immune to foreshadowing, you may not know 
how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf, 
the red leaves of the maple falling 
even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible 
for these vines.

Seamus Heaney

The summer classic '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.