Poetry Friday: The Round-up is here!


We are just dipping our toes into the month of August, but summer already seems to be coming to an end. Perhaps this is because some of my teacher friends are getting their classrooms ready and preparing to begin their new school year within days.  Perhaps this is because August has always meant (for me) a turning towards school thoughts: curriculum maps, new units to explore, changes to make.

July, it seems, signifies Summer: long days without clocks or schedules, days to do with as one pleases.  August, it seems, signifies a return to responsibilities, clock watching, calendar checking.

So, I share this bittersweet poem for Poetry Friday.  I am still surrounded by summer’s languorous heat and gifts of lovely wildflowers…but I am now keenly aware of its passing.

Summer’s Elegy by Howard Nemerov

Day after day, day after still day,
The summer has begun to pass away.
Starlings at twilight fly clustered and call,
And branches bend, and leaves begin to fall.
The meadow and the orchard grass are mown,
And the meadowlark’s house is cut down.

The little lantern bugs have doused their fires,
The swallows sit in rows along the wires.
Berry and grape appear among the flowers
Tangled against the wall in secret bowers,
And cricket now begins to hum the hours
Remaining to the passion’s slow procession
Down from the high place and the golden session
Wherein the sun was sacrificed for us.
A failing light, no longer numinous,
Now frames the long and solemn afternoons
Where butterflies regret their closed cocoons.
We reach the place unripe, and made to know
As with a sudden knowledge that we go
Away forever, all hope of return
Cut off, hearing the crackle of the burn-
ing blade behind us, and the terminal sound
Of apples dropping on the dry ground.

Add your link, and let the Poetry Friday festivities begin!


40 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: The Round-up is here!

  1. Oh, a rather sad look at how quickly summer, and life, go! But just lovely. I didn’t know the poem and looked up and immediately found on The Writer’s Almanac.
    I’m in with a similar “theme,” but more playful, as my daughter greets her new students in Georgia today! And a poem from Christina Rossetti’s “The Months: A Pageant.”
    Happy August, Tara – Thanks for hosting, & enjoy the last lingering days of the season.

  2. Love this poem, Tara – hadn’t seen it before, but it sums up the season perfectly. And I agree about July and August’s roles in our internal seasonal clocks. I’m sharing some iambic pentameter, as well, today…but since it’s Throwback Summer, you can be assured it’s nowhere near as lovely as the one you shared!

  3. Oh, it is beautiful, and it seems too soon. I’m hoping this is not true, yet: “The little lantern bugs have doused their fires”. We are headed to Missouri to see my brother and family, and the grand-girls love those ‘little lantern bugs’. Our crickets are humming, cicadas are buzzing, and a cold front has arrived for this week’s end, reminding us as your poem does? Thanks Tara, enjoy your time while you can. I’m sharing a wonderful poem swap gift this time.

  4. A beautiful tribute to summer and summer’s end. For me, sadly, it’s over, but it was glorious! Now onward to make this school year great, too.

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  6. Hi Tara,

    Such a sad ending, and like the author, I would rather linger here: “The swallows sit in rows along the wires.
    Berry and grape appear among the flowers
    Tangled against the wall in secret bowers,
    And cricket now begins to hum the hours….”

    I wrote with irreverence and attitude this week. And I am not apologetic, nope, not at all. 🙂

    Thanks very much for hosting!

    Warmly (not hard this time of year),


  7. Isn’t that beautiful, Tara! Who wrote it? I especially love this couplet: “The little lantern bugs have doused their fires,/The swallows sit in rows along the wires.” Enjoy your last weeks of warmth and wildflowers on the farm, and thanks for taking time out to host today!

  8. Tara, thank you for hosting PF and presenting us with a poem to linger over. August comes and the busy work starts again but there is still time to enjoy the summer. I am contributing more digital compositions from my summerscape moments.

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  11. Love that poem, Tara! (Michelle, it’s by Howard Nemerov.) I’m still enjoying the “long and solemn afternoons” for awhile – adding in some cold lemonade to sharpen things up so August is not TOO solemn. Thanks for hosting the round-up this week!

  12. What a lovely, poignant poem, Tara. I love the images of lantern bugs, swallows, grapes and crickets all heralding the end of summer. The word “numinous” is new to me (and lots of fun to repeat over and over!) and I’m always delighted to learn a new word. Thanks for sharing and for hosting this week!

  13. Thanks for hosting, Tara. And thanks for sharing that beautiful poem.
    I taught school for 26 years so I can relate to your comment about turning toward school thoughts—it’s a part of me even though I’m not on that schedule anymore.

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  15. I do love that little line about the lantern bugs best of all. Autumn for us means bitterly cold winds that slice like a knife. But after a gorgeous, mild winter, I can’t complain this year when the winds howl.

  16. Thank you, Tara. Wishing just a bit more summer sweetness as your thoughts turn to school. I have a teacher as a guest with us for a long weekend, who insists his mind won’t go to his first graders — but conversations head there, and his care for those young lives simmers up.

  17. O those little lantern bugs dousing their fires! We’ve still got summer for at least another month here in the south, but yes, I have noticed the sun dipping sooner in the evenings and being later to top the trees in the mornings. And area schools start back next week! Thank you for the poem, Tara, and wishing you sweet moments as you prepare for the new school year. xo

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  19. Thanks so much for doing the roundup this week! I remember how much time I spent at school in August prepping my classroom when I was teaching. It’s hard to believe that I have been retired for twelve years! Enjoy the rest of the summer.

  20. I know what you mean about the fleeting energy of August, Tara. My daughter started 7th grade yesterday! Every year the first day gets earlier and earlier. I love this line from Nemerov’s poem:
    “little lantern bugs have doused their fires”
    Thanks for hosting! =)

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  22. I’m reminded of the specificity of poets way of observing. I love this line: “Starlings at twilight fly clustered…”

    I always loved going away in late August, soaking up all that end of summer goodness …

  23. This poem captures exactly how I’m feeling.
    “Where butterflies regret their closed cocoons.”
    Makes me think of the beginnings of summer and all that it held. It’s now behind. Bittersweet.
    Your picture captures the feeling as well: wildflowers in fading light.

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  25. Thank you for hosting today, Tara, and for sharing this lovely poem. I think our brains are just conditioned to start thinking about school when the calendar turns to August. And even though I always miss the slower pace of summer, I look forward to returning to classrooms abuzz with learning!

  26. Thank you for hosting and sharing this bittersweet poem about summer. I feel that pull to head to the classroom right about now.

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  28. Ah, yes, the end of summer comes too soon. My English teacher husband is preparing to head back to his classroom next week. Arrgh! Where did the time go?

    Love your pick today.

    Thanks for hosting!

  29. Thank you for this beauty. I am going to copy it into my notebook. Here on Raiber Road, I know it’s getting to be late summer when I see those first chickory blooms… Enjoy August, friend! Thank you for hosting today. xo

  30. Thank you for hosting this week and Happy August! I’m an August baby and I love finding special words and pretty things related to my birth month. This poem is rich. My favorite part: “We reach the place unripe,”
    This week kicked my butt for writing…lucky me I get lots of lovely August poems to read.

  31. Summer always returns! I am ever hopeful. Which is good because this summer was pretty difficult at times. Thanks for hosting, Tara!

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