I don’t know about you, but I’ve always seen the July 4th holiday as the turning point for summer.
The days have just started to get shorter. The foliage starts to brown, and even though it’s two full months before September, there is a sense that the glorious hurrah of summer will all come to an end all too soon.
“The Oven Bird” by Robert Frost says all this and more to me.
It’s just a little sonnet. Fourteen lines in all.
It’s worth a look to read the whole poem, but several of the lines are little gems that stand alone. Writing about the song of the little oven bird, Frost says:
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers,
And, just a couple of lines later,
He says the highway dust is over all.
That is a poignant, dusty image, familiar to anyone who has lived in the country. It signals that the spring rains are definitely over, and you’ve entered that long, hot stretch that ends with the on-coming fall. Time is moving ahead.
The poem wraps up with a wonderful final two lines:
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.
A good question to ask any time of year, or at any time of life.