Thoughtful Thursday: Summertime Poetry

Thoughtful Thursday: Summertime Poetry

As we near mid July, today’s Thoughtful Thursday celebrates Summer.  We do so with a variety of poems about summer from a variety of poets.  We start with a classic from Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), who “In Summer” waxes eloquently about a song for a summer’s day.  Then we have a delightful ode to a “Firefly”, a familiar summer sight, by Jacqueline Woodson (b. 1963).  We end with “Vacation” from former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove (b.1952).
Share these poems with your children (make it part of their summer reading!) and enjoy.

In Summer

Oh, summer has clothed the earth
In a cloak from the loom of the sun!
And a mantle, too, of the skies ‘ soft blue
And a belt where the rivers run.
And now for the kiss of the wind,
And the touch of the air’s soft hands,
With the rest from strife and the heat of life,
With the freedom of lakes and lands.
I envy the farmer’s boy
Who sings as he follows the plow;
While the shining green of the young blades lean
To the breezes that cool his brow.
He sings to the dewy morn,
No thought of another’s ear;
But the song he sings is a chant for kings
And the whole wide world to hear.
He sings of the joys of life,
Of the pleasures of work and rest,
From an o’erfull heart, without aim or art;
‘T is a song of the merriest.
O ye who toil in the town,
And ye who moil in the mart,
Here the artless song, and your faith made strong
Shall renew your joy of heart.
Oh, poor were the worth of the world
If never a song were heard,
If the sting of grief had no relief
And never a heart were stirred.
So, long as the streams run down,
And as long as the robins trill,
Let us taunt old Care with a merry air,
And sing in the face of ill.
Paul Laurence Dunbar
Firefly
It’s almost May
and yesterday
I saw a firefly.
You don’t see
them a lot
in the city.
Sometimes
in the park
in the near dark
one comes out
you’ll hear
a little kid shout
Lightning bug! Firefly!
It’s almost May
and yesterday
I caught a firefly in my hand.
First firefly I
seen in a
long, long time.
Make a wish,
Miss Edna said.
Make a good one.
Firefly wishes always come true.
Jacqueline Woodson

Vacation
I love the hour before takeoff,
that stretch of no time, no home
but the gray vinyl seats linked like
unfolding paper dolls.  Soon we shall
be summoned to the gate, soon enough
there’ll be the clumsy procedure of row numbers
and perforated stubs—but for now
I can look at these ragtag nuclear families
with their cooing and bickering
or the heeled bachelorette trying
to ignore a baby’s wail and the baby’s
exhausted mother waiting to be called up early
while the athlete,  one monstrous hand
asleep on his duffel bag, listens,
perched like a seal trained for the plunge.
Even the lone executive
who has wandered this far into summer
with his lasered itinerary, briefcase
knocking his knees—even he
has worked for the pleasure of bearing
no more than a scrap of himself
into this hall.  He’ll dine out, she’ll sleep late,
they’ll let the sun burn them happy all morning
—a little hope, a little whimsy
before the loudspeaker blurts
and we leap up to become
Flight 828, now boarding at Gate 17.
Rita Dove

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