While I am mindful that parts of the world are baking, the state of the Great British Summer so far is dismal, breaking records for rainfall.
The weather for the last three weeks has been a palate of grey skies, rain, drizzle and clouds.
So, instead of soaking up the sun, I am sharing places in these poems where many of the experiences are summer are virtual and born of a whimsical blend of imagination and memory.
The irony here is that the yearning anticipation and expectations associated with experiences of summer and travel can be just as elusive as the summer weather itself.
Fishing on the Susquehanna in July
by Billy Collins
I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna or on any river for that matter to be perfectly honest. Not in July or any month have I had the pleasure--if it is a pleasure-- of fishing on the Susquehanna. I am more likely to be found in a quiet room like this one-- a painting of a woman on the wall, a bowl of tangerines on the table-- trying to manufacture the sensation of fishing on the Susquehanna. There is little doubt that others have been fishing on the Susquehanna, rowing upstream in a wooden boat, sliding the oars under the water then raising them to drip in the light. But the nearest I have ever come to fishing on the Susquehanna was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia when I balanced a little egg of time in front of a painting in which that river curled around a bend under a blue cloud-ruffled sky, dense trees along the banks, and a fellow with a red bandanna sitting in a small, green flat-bottom boat holding the thin whip of a pole. That is something I am unlikely ever to do, I remember saying to myself and the person next to me. Then I blinked and moved on to other American scenes of haystacks, water whitening over rocks, even one of a brown hare who seemed so wired with alertness I imagined him springing right out of the frame.
|by Rita Dove|
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 haswandered 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.
Image source One of several lakes at the Carl Sandburg estate in Flat Rock, North Carolina.
|by Carl Sandburg|
Shine on, O moon of summer. Shine to the leaves of grass, catalpa and oak, All silver under your rain to-night. An Italian boy is sending songs to you to-night from an accordion. A Polish boy is out with his best girl; they marry next month; to-night they are throwing you kisses. An old man next door is dreaming over a sheen that sits in a cherry tree in his back yard. The clocks say I must go—I stay here sitting on the back porch drinking white thoughts you rain down. Shine on, O moon, Shake out more and more silver changes.