Late summer’s sun has baked the grass to brown.
The days grow shorter with each passing day,
Soon, autumn’s chill will make the leaves fall down.
All of this aching beauty will decay.
And yet I love the shadows’ slanting trace,
The once green grain gone golden in its rows,
And how I love the lines etched in your face.
It’s funny, as love ripens how it grows.
The number of our days we do not know.
No sleeper knows if he will ever wake.
So come, let’s join above, between, below.
My dear, let’s cause our fragile clay to quake.
Let us make love as if it’s our last go.
Let us embrace like dawn will never break.
Notes: T.S. Eliot said April was the cruelest month. I disagree. I think it’s August. The ground is parched, the foliage is showing its mortality, and it’s clear that we’ve passed high summer and we’re on the downhill slide. Nothing gold can stay and the highway dust is over all.
Extra credit to any poetry geek who can spot the homage to John Donne in this poem.
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.
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.