January 19, 2021

Pic & Poem of the Week: July 10, 2016

Summer Spray

Summer Spray

Click on picture for larger image

• • •

Summer, when the living is easy
and we store up pleasure in our bodies
like fat, like Eskimos,
for the coming season of privation.

All August the Ferris wheel will turn
in the little amusement park,
and screaming teenage girls will jump into the river
with their clothes on,
right next to the No Swimming sign.

Trying to cool the heat inside the small towns
of their bodies,
for which they have no words;
obedient to the voice inside which tells them,
“Now. Steal Pleasure.”

Tony Hoagland
From “Summer in a Small Town”


  1. Christiane says

    I look at today’s poem, and I think ‘what can be done with THIS’?
    well, out of the blue, comes ‘Summer is icument in’
    It’s better in modern English, sort of, if you like this kind of thing, and some people actually do.

    “Modern English for ‘Sumer Is Icumen In’

    “Summer has arrived,
    Sing loudly, cuckoo!
    The seed is growing
    And the meadow is blooming,
    And the wood is coming into leaf now,
    Sing, cuckoo!

    The ewe is bleating after her lamb,
    The cow is lowing after her calf;
    The bullock is prancing,
    The billy-goat farting,

    Sing merrily, cuckoo!”

    • >> It’s better in modern English, sort of . . .

      Strikes me as the New International Version, or maybe the Google Translation. Country people here would still be known to say “Summer is a-comin’ in” and even Brooklyners would understand them. So called Middle English is not all that different if you update spelling considering how long it’s been. I never appreciated Chaucer much until I spent a semester in Yorkshire, Northern England, where they were still saying thee and thou.

  2. Those kids are grasshoppers and I’m the ant, looking out my window at my woodpile building up at considerable loss of summertime pleasure in anticipation of sitting in front of the fire this winter reading and snoozing. I got to be a grasshopper until I was 14, even tho I caddied starting at 8, glad for both. I had Lake MIchigan to jump into on hot afternoons. Even tho I’ve been pushing myself hard, this Sunday morning I said, “Now. Steal Pleasure.” Went back to bed twice, read, snoozed, forewent my usual health-oriented food and ate up the loaf of brown bread in a can my neighbor brought me along with a stick of butter and a jar of marmalade I keep around for the occasional guest. This was a lot more restorative than if I had forced myself to drive twenty miles to a 9:00 church service, and I can tackle those big rounds from the Maple tree tomorrow. Grasshopper for a day.

  3. Christiane says

    summer time twenty years ago,
    my son home with a ton of friends over in the pool
    pizza boxes stacked to the ceiling, 3 liter bottles of soda everywhere , hot dogs on the grill, the freezer door left open as ice cream sandwiches are raided
    and the noise, cannon-balling off the diving board, ‘marco’, ‘polo’, non-stop laughter ……. and I must monitor for safety, so many towels to wash, to fold, to store until the ‘next time’

    but I knew the kids my son hung with, and I knew their parents, and they were safe and fed and happy for that time ….. a season free from the cares that were coming towards them like a freight train with college or military duty awaiting in a year or two ……. skateboard to humvees for some among them
    , but not ‘now’, not during those summers, they had those summers and they were joyful then ….. for a while
    and I was exhausted …. this is a teacher’s summer ‘vacation’ ????

    why was it that those would be counted as among the happiest days of my life and I could not realize it then ? 🙂

  4. Robert F says

    Weeding the garden,
    sweating on the flowerbed —
    Monarch butterfly approaches!

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