Poetry Sunday: End of Summer by Stanley Kunitz

Summer does not typically end for us in September. Instead, it lingers through most of October and even sometimes into November and December. Wearing shorts on Christmas Day is not unheard of in these parts. But at the end of last week, we did get a glimpse of autumn and were allowed to hope that 90 degrees F days might be over for a while. Daytime temperatures hovered in the 70s and at night dropped all the way into the high 50s. Higher temperatures will likely return this week, but it has been nice while it lasted.

Stanley Kunitz in this 1953 poem celebrated the changing of the seasons. I was particularly struck by his reference to "the unloved year." If ever a year was unloved, it is 2020.

End of Summer

by Stanley Kunitz

An agitation of the air,
A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.
I stood in the disenchanted field
Amid the stubble and the stones,
Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me
The song of my marrow-bones.
Blue poured into summer blue,
A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,
The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew
That part of my life was over.
Already the iron door of the north
Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows
Order their populations forth,
And a cruel wind blows.


  1. As you say, for many reasons, we will not remember 2020 fondly, but I am hoping very much that on 3 November the entire world will be celebrating the demise of an aberrant figure in American politics, banished to the ash heap of ignominy and shame forever. That will be at least one day to rejoice, Your choice of our Sunday poem was delightful, Dorothy, as it always is. A constant to count on each week.

    1. My husband and I have voted as have several million others. Now we wait with fingers crossed and hopes high.

  2. I love that last stanza. As someone from the Northeast United States, I totally identify with it.

    1. I actually thought of you when I read the poem and thought it might appeal to you.

  3. Today the most recent heat wave ended. I hope the season will change for good but my hopes could be dashed. The poem may be one of the best I have read about the coming of fall.

    1. He does accurately evoke the coming of autumn - at least in places that have true autumns.

  4. Good choice of poem for the change of season, Dorothy. In the Northeast, autumn has set in beautifully with glorious fall foliage. Hopefully, it portends the end of all that is unloved about this year. P. x

    1. Lucky Pennsylvania with its actual autumn! We'll take our few cool days here and there whenever we can get them.

  5. Lots of things in this poem makes me think of 2020: "unloved year," "disenchanted," "knew that part of my life was over," and "cruel wind blows." Perfect for this year.

    1. I agree that it almost seems as if it were written for this year.

  6. Yeah, I don't think there will be a year quite as unloved as 2020


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