Summertime- Blake, Rilke, Sandburg, Shakespeare

Summer has begun– a slower, sweeter time of year for many families. I enjoy each month of the year as it arrives, but the lushness of summer greens is a special delight. Each time I pick roses, I gather a variety of lovely foliage to complement them- hostas, crimson barberry, several types of ferns, a bit of lemon balm for extra fragrance, and whatever else strikes my fancy. The cool green, gray, and burgundy shades frame the lush roses beautifully. Roses, like most stars, are loveliest with a supporting cast!

It’s time for summer poems, and I’ve tried to choose three you may not know, plus a Shakespearean sonnet that always rewards another reading. These are lovely for copywork, or simply for reading and savoring. Enjoy!

To Summer by William Blake
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 pitched’st 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 fam’d 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.

Before Summer Rain by Rainer Maria Rilke
Suddenly, from all the green around you,
something-you don’t know what-has disappeared;
you feel it creeping closer to the window,
in total silence. From the nearby wood

you hear the urgent whistling of a plover,
reminding you of someone’s Saint Jerome:
so much solitude and passion come
from that one voice, whose fierce request the downpour

will grant. The walls, with their ancient portraits, glide
away from us, cautiously, as though
they weren’t supposed to hear what we are saying.

And reflected on the faded tapestries now;
the chill, uncertain sunlight of those long
childhood hours when you were so afraid.

Summer Stars by Carl Sandburg
BEND low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars,
So near, strumming, strumming,
So lazy and hum-strummi

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

(Sonnet 18) by William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


There are some very interesting posts in today’s Carnival of Homeschooling at The Common Room. The post about the FLDS children provides a sobering bit of food for thought, while others offer encouragement and a bit of delightfully exploratory reading.

I should have the new Conquer the Test! SAT audio workshop/text and the little Evaluating Writing the Easy Way book up on the website this week, so if you’ve been waiting for it, be sure to visit toward the end of the week.

2 Responses

  1. Irene says:

    Thank you for all the fine resources and encouragement you provide. Poetry memorization and appreciation is a treasured part of our day, and I love your choice of poems and the artwork that accompany them. Have you considered making them available as PDFs to make it easier to save offline?

    • What an excellent suggestion! I hadn’t thought of it, but perhaps I can do that once convention season is over. I’m the only one here who works on the website, so as you can imagine, things ebb and flow with the general busyness of the year. Pairing poetry and art is one of my favorite things, though. Thank you for stopping by!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.