Monday, 29 July 2013

A Rambling Miscellany Of Summery Verses and Pictures

 As we are in the midst of summer, it seems a miscellany of summery verses gathered from various books and songs would be a lovely seasonal touch.  Imagine being under a shady tree with a particularly fine picnic laid out, and of course, the temperature not too hot with a gentle breeze.  Lose yourself in all this romantic imagery of nature in Summer.
"The word 'summer' comes from the Sanskrit asma, meaning 'half-year'.  Like the year itself, summer is divided into seasons, low summer, midsummer, high summer.  Low summer is scarcely more advanced than high spring because several species of migrant birds have only lately arrived, and the woods shine as they did in May.  Midsummer is more spacious.  From dawn till dusk the sun spans our waking hours and overlaps them with a long arc which George Meredith drew with a short line: 'This was a day that knew not age.'   High summer bestows almost a surfeit of colour and scent, for the corn is yellowing, the chrysanthemums are flowering and the honeysuckle yields a second crop..."  J.H.B. Peel, from Calvacade of Summer Riches

"A Brimstone butterfly drifted with the wind over the waving grasses, and settled on the shallow cup of a tall flower, John-go-to-bed-at-noon.  The bright flowers were closing, for the sun was high.  It paused for an instant only, and then fluttered over the hedge and was gone.  Came a common white butterfly-a weed of the air, hated by the countrymen; yet part of summer's heart as it flickered like a strayed snowflake in the sunshine, passing the whorled spires of red-green sorrel and glazed petals of buttercup, living its brief hour among the scents and colours of summer. 
Vibrating their sun-crisped wings with shrill hum, the hover-flies shot past:  the wild bumble-bees sang to themselves as in a frenzy of labour for their ideal they took the pollen from the roses in the hedge; the cuckoos sent call after call of melody from the distant hazel coppice.  The sound of summer was everywhere, the earth filled with swelling ecstasy-everything so green and alive, the waving grasses and the hawthorns; the green kingdom charged and surcharged with energy, from the wild strawberry to the mighty, sap-surfeited bole of the oak.  Although so still, the vast earth was humming and vibrating, the crescendo of passion reached gradually while the sun  swept nearer, day by day, the zenith of its curve."  Henry Williamson, Meadow Grasses

Gather Meadowsweet For Its Invigorating Scent:
"Meadowsweet originally 'mead-sweet', takes its name from its use in flavouring honey-mead drinks.  It is reported that the flowers boiled in wine and drunk to make the heart merry.  The leaves and flowers far excel all other strewing herbs, for to deck up houses, to strew in chambers, halls and banquetting houses in the Summer time:  for the smell thereof makes the heart merry, delightest the senses." Gerald, Herball 1597
"Also used against fevers and malaria, meadowsweet contains a substance similar to aspirin.  In the Highlands it is called Crios Chuchulainn, 'Cuchullain's belt' because the great Ulster hero revived himself by binding it around his waist."  from, A Celtic Book of Days

"The high grasslands on a summer day have an idyllic quality.  They are remote and quiet.  They are green and kind to the eye.  They are ease to the feet, the flowers have great variety and a new beauty, and the very pebbles among which they grow have a sparkle and show of colour...Take a little tent and remain in the quietness for a few days.  It is magnificent to rise in the morning in such a place."   Sir Frank Fraser Darling, The Highlands and Islands

Summer has spread a cool, green tent
Upon the bare poles of this tree;
Where 'tis joy to sit all day,
And hear the small birds' melody;
To see the sheep stand bolt upright,
Nibbling at grass almost their height.
How much I marvel now how men
Can waste their fleeting days in greed;
That one man should desire more gold
Than twenty men should truly need;
For is not this green tone more sweet
Than any chamber of the great? 
W. H. Davies

"Is there any light quite like the June sun of the North and West?  It takes trouble out of the world." 
 Sir Frank Fraser Darling (1903-1979) Island Days

SUMMERY VERSES in Scots from traditional Scottish folk songs

Oh the Gallowa' hills are covered with broom, Wi' heather bells, in bonnie bloom;
Wi' heather bells an rivers a', An I'll gang oot ower the hills to Gallowa'...

High up amang yon Hieland hills
There lives a bonnie maiden,
And she's gone oot ane fine summer's night
To watch all the soldiers paradin'....

Oh the summer time is come and the trees are sweetly bloomin'
And the wild mountain thyme grows amang the bloomin' heather...

Let us go lassie, go, tae the braes o' Balquhidder,
Whar the blueberries grow 'mang the bonnie Hielan' heather;
Whar the deer and the rae, lichtly bounding thegither,
Sport the lang summer day on the braes o' Balquhidder.

Noo the summer's in prime, wi' the flooers richly bloomin',
Wi' the wild mountain thyme a' the moorlan's perfumin';
Tae oor dear native scenes let us journey thegither,
Whar glad innocence reigns, 'mang the braes o' Balquhidder. 
Robert Tannahill

Too quick despairer, wherefore wilt though go?   
Soon will the high Midsummer pomps come on,
Soon will the musk carnations break and swell
Soon shall we have gold-dusted snapdragon,
Sweet William with its homely cottage-smell,
And stocks in fragrant blow;
Roses that down the alleys shine afar,
And open, jasmine-muffled lattices,
And groups under the dreaming garden-trees,
And the full moon, and the white evening star.     (Matthew Arnold)

               SUMMER, by John Clare

The oak's slow-opening leaf, of deepening hue, 
Bespeaks the power of Summer once again;
While many a flower unfolds its charms to view,
To glad the entrance of his sultry reign.
Where peep the gaping speckled cuckoo-flowers,
Sweet is each rural scene she brings to pass;
Prizes to rambling school-boys' vacant hours,
Tracking wild searches through the meadow grass:
The meadow-sweet taunts high its showy wreath,
And sweet the quaking-grasses hide beneath.
Ah, 'barr'd from all that sweetens life below,
Another Summer still my eyes can see
Freed from the scorn and pilgrimage of woe,
To share the Seasons of Eternity.

"It was a bright morning in the early part of summer; the river had resumed its wonted banks, and a hot sun seemed to be pulling everything green and bushy up out of the earth, as if by strings.  The Mole and Water Rat had been up since dawn, busy on matters connected with boats and the boating season; painting and varnishing, mending paddles, repairing cushions, hunting for missing boat-hooks, and so on..." Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious wood-bine, With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine;
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night, Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight....
                           William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Paintings by: Samuel Palmer, Eric Ravilious,  Tirzah Garwood, Charles Robinson, Inga Moore, Vanessa Bell, unknown, Inga Moore,  Arthur Rackham, Helen Allingham, Stanley Spencer

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