“To Summer” by William Blake

Claude Monet: Green Garden

Claude Monet: Green Garden

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.

Sometimes, you read a poem and it just speaks directly to your soul. I experienced that feeling today when I read this poem. I live in the southern Appalachian Mountains and this poem captures the feeling I get when I sit outside under my large oak tree, or go for a hike along a mountain trail and rest beside a stream, smelling the rich moss and decomposing leaves that fell to the earth the previous autumn. As I read Blake’s words, I could feel the humid warmth that is a part of my summer.

This poem also stirred memories of my childhood summers. There was an excitement associated with summer that is difficult to express in words. The sensation of running barefoot through the grass, of climbing trees, lush with green foliage, of lying about, lazy, basking in the long days. I sometimes forget how much I loved summer as a child.

There is a sense of abundance in this poem, as well as celebration and inspiration. The third stanza makes me want to invite all my friends over to cook out in the backyard, then take out our instruments and play music until long after the sun sets.

I hope you found this poem as inspiring as I did, and may you enjoy your summer.

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8 Comments

Filed under Literature

8 responses to ““To Summer” by William Blake

  1. Ahhhhh….Blake. But there’s also the crude heartfelt cudgel poem from Old English: “Sumer is acummin in/Sing loud the cuckoo” I (hahaha) ALWAYS recite that ancient poem spontaneously on the appearance of the fist fringe of green on the lawn. Something so ritualistic, chthonic about it, fairies, sprites, nyads, wood nymphs… says so much.

  2. Sorry, I mis-spelled some of that OE stuff, but!

    Also check out “Western Wind”

    “Western wind, when will thou blow,
    The small rain down can rain?
    Christ! If my love were in my arms,
    And I in my bed again!”

    Both are ancient, and anonymous, yet cut to the quick

    • OK, I definitely will!! Thanks for your thoughtful comments. It’s great to meet people like you who are well read and can make recommendations such as this. Cheers!! — Jeff

  3. Hello dear jeff,

    Great poem and insights on it… Always a pleasure to stop by at your blog…
    Keep it up, my friend 🙂
    Best wishes and happy wednesday ahead to you,
    Aquileana 😀

  4. Ariel

    Thank you for reminding me to read Blake. It’s always such a treat. Summer is my very favorite, and this poem captures so much of that. Cheers!

    • Hi Ariel! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yes, I love summer too, but again, I love all the seasons. There is something spiritual about the cycle of the seasons, and I think Blake was attuned to that. Cheers!

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