Poetry Sunday: Midsummer by William Cullen Bryant

June 24 is the traditional Midsummer Day in the northern hemisphere, but, in fact, we have just a few days ago passed the middle summer day on the calendar, so let's stretch the point and enjoy a William Cullen Bryant poem. I can certainly relate to his line about plants fainting in the field beneath the torrid blaze of the sun and "life is driven from all the landscape brown." August in Southeast Texas seems almost unbearable and yet there are many places in the world where it is truly unbearable and getting more so as the planet heats up. Places where it is...

"As if the Day of Fire had dawned, and sent
Its deadly breath into the firmament."

Midsummer

by William Cullen Bryant (1794 - 1878)

A power is on the earth and in the air,   From which the vital spirit shrinks afraid,   And shelters him in nooks of deepest shade, From the hot steam and from the fiery glare. Look forth upon the earth—her thousand plants   Are smitten; even the dark sun-loving maize   Faints in the field beneath the torrid blaze; The herd beside the shaded fountain pants; For life is driven from all the landscape brown;   The bird hath sought his tree, the snake his den,   The trout floats dead in the hot stream, and men Drop by the sunstroke in the populous town:   As if the Day of Fire had dawned, and sent   Its deadly breath into the firmament.

Comments

  1. That is a powerful and destructive description of summer! Though I am not in air conditioned places all the time, I suppose living in a world without it, and dressing like the people did in the nineteenth century, might make me feel like summer was more ominous.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the nineteenth century style of clothing, at least what we see in pictures, was certainly not conducive to summer comfort.

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  2. Hot weather and I are not good friends, so I can't imagine what it is going to be like as the planet continues to heat up. I shudder to think of the migrations that will be triggered as places become too hot for humans to survive,

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    Replies
    1. The migrations have already begun and are sure to increase as the century ages and gets hotter.

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  3. The heat is on! Thankfully we had some clouds with it this week. Love the poem.

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    1. Our fluffy white clouds haven't given much respite recently.

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  4. The New York Times magazine recently devoted an entire issue to climate change migration. I couldn't bring myself to read it - one more set of troubles. I lived through a massive heat wave in Wichita, Kansas in 1980 with air conditioning at work but not at work (long story). It was hard. I can identify with this poem.

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    Replies
    1. We would be utterly miserable without air conditioning. We do have ceiling fans in every room, but when the air they are moving is hot, they just don't help that much.

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  5. I love this poem, it really captures the true feeling of a very hot summer!

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