9 Scorching Poems About Summer

As we head into the heart of summer, the weather can only get more scorching! Here are nine poems about the hot weather.

Just For Fun Poetry & Drama

It’s hard to believe that summer is already almost half over. Now’s that time of the year when the heat gets cranked up to 11 and scorches our cars and our skin (make sure you apply lots of sunscreen!). The intense heat wave here in New York inspired me to take a look at what some poets had to say about summer heat! If you’re interested too, here are nine poems that talk about exactly that. Stay cool!

 

image via pittsburgh children’s museum

1. “summer wind” by william cullen bryant

It is a sultry day; the sun has drunk
The dew that lay upon the morning grass;
There is no rustling in the lofty elm
That canopies my dwelling, and its shade
Scarce cools me. All is silent, save the faint
And interrupted murmur of the bee,
Settling on the sick flowers, and then again
Instantly on the wing. The plants around
Feel the too potent fervors: the tall maize
Rolls up its long green leaves; the clover droops
Its tender foliage, and declines its blooms.
But far in the fierce sunshine tower the hills,
With all their growth of woods, silent and stern,
As if the scorching heat and dazzling light
Were but an element they loved. Bright clouds,
Motionless pillars of the brazen heaven–
Their bases on the mountains–their white tops
Shining in the far ether–fire the air
With a reflected radiance, and make turn
The gazer’s eye away. For me, I lie
Languidly in the shade, where the thick turf,
Yet virgin from the kisses of the sun,
Retains some freshness, and I woo the wind
That still delays his coming. Why so slow,
Gentle and voluble spirit of the air?
Oh, come and breathe upon the fainting earth
Coolness and life! Is it that in his caves
He hears me? See, on yonder woody ridge,
The pine is bending his proud top, and now
Among the nearer groves, chestnut and oak
Are tossing their green boughs about. He comes;
Lo, where the grassy meadow runs in waves!
The deep distressful silence of the scene
Breaks up with mingling of unnumbered sounds
And universal motion. He is come,
Shaking a shower of blossoms from the shrubs,
And bearing on their fragrance; and he brings
Music of birds, and rustling of young boughs,
And sound of swaying branches, and the voice
Of distant waterfalls. All the green herbs
Are stirring in his breath; a thousand flowers,
By the road-side and the borders of the brook,
Nod gayly to each other; glossy leaves
Are twinkling in the sun, as if the dew
Were on them yet, and silver waters break
Into small waves and sparkle as he comes.

 

image via newsthump

2. “summer of the ladybirds” by Vivian Smith

Can we learn wisdom watching insects now,
or just the art of quiet observation?
Creatures from the world of leaf and flower
marking weather’s variation.
The huge dry summer of the ladybirds
(we thought we’d never feel such heat again)
started with white cabbage butterflies
sipping at thin trickles in the drain.
Then one by one the ladybirds appeared
obeying some far purpose or design.
We marvelled at their numbers in the garden,
grouped together, shuffling in a line.
Each day a few strays turned up at the table,
the children laughed to see them near the jam
exploring round the edges of a spoon.
One tried to drink the moisture on my arm.
How random and how frail seemed their lives,
and yet how they persisted, refugees,
saving energy by keeping still
and hiding in the grass and in the trees.
And then one day they vanished overnight.
Clouds gathered, storm exploded, weather cleared.
And all the wishes that we might have had
in such abundance simply disappeared.

 

image via mahoney’s garden center

3. “on summer” by george moses horton

Esteville begins to burn;
   The auburn fields of harvest rise;
The torrid flames again return,
   And thunders roll along the skies.
Perspiring Cancer lifts his head,
   And roars terrific from on high;
Whose voice the timid creatures dread;
   From which they strive with awe to fly.
The night-hawk ventures from his cell,
   And starts his note in evening air;
He feels the heat his bosom swell,
   Which drives away the gloom of fear.
Thou noisy insect, start thy drum;
   Rise lamp-like bugs to light the train;
And bid sweet Philomela come,
   And sound in front the nightly strain.
The bee begins her ceaseless hum,
   And doth with sweet exertions rise;
And with delight she stores her comb,
   And well her rising stock supplies.
Let sportive children well beware,
   While sprightly frisking o’er the green;
And carefully avoid the snare,
   Which lurks beneath the smiling scene.
The mistress bird assumes her nest,
   And broods in silence on the tree,
Her note to cease, her wings at rest,
   She patient waits her young to see.

 

image via pikist

4. “the summer bower” by Henry Timrod

It is a place whither I’ve often gone
For peace, and found it, secret, hushed, and cool,
A beautiful recess in neighboring woods.
Trees of the soberest hues, thick-leaved and tall,
Arch it o’erhead and column it around,
Framing a covert, natural and wild,
Domelike and dim; though nowhere so enclosed
But that the gentlest breezes reach the spot
Unwearied and unweakened. Sound is here
A transient and unfrequent visitor;
Yet if the day be calm, not often then,
Whilst the high pines in one another’s arms
Sleep, you may sometimes with unstartled ear
Catch the far fall of voices, how remote
You know not, and you do not care to know.
The turf is soft and green, but not a flower
Lights the recess, save one, star-shaped and bright—
I do not know its name—which here and there
Gleams like a sapphire set in emerald.
A narrow opening in the branched roof,
A single one, is large enough to show,
With that half-glimpse a dreamer loves so much,
The blue air and the blessing of the sky.
Thither I always bent my idle steps,
When griefs depressed, or joys disturbed my heart,
And found the calm I looked for, or returned
Strong with the quite rapture in my soul.
But one day,
One of those July days when winds have fled
One knows not whither, I, most sick in mind
With thoughts that shall be nameless, yet, no doubt,
Wrong, or at least unhealthful, since though dark
With gloom, and touched with discontent, they had
No adequate excuse, nor cause, nor end,
I, with these thoughts, and on this summer day,
Entered the accustomed haunt, and found for once
No medicinal virtue.
Not a leaf
Stirred with the whispering welcome which I sought,
But in a close and humid atmosphere,
Every fair plant and implicated bough
Hung lax and lifeless. Something in the place,
Its utter stillness, the unusual heat,
And some more secret influence, I thought,
Weighed on the sense like sin. Above I saw,
Though not a cloud was visible in heaven,
The palid sky look through a glazed mist
Like a blue eye in death.
The change, perhaps,
Was natural enough; my jaundiced sight,
The weather, and the time explain it all:
Yet have I drawn a lesson from the spot,
And shrined it in these verses for my heart.
Thenceforth those tranquil precincts I have sought
Not less, and in all shades of various moods;
But always shun to desecrate the spot
By weak repinings, sickly sentiments,
Or inconclusive sorrows. Nature, though
Pure as she was in Eden when her breath
Kissed the white brow of Eve, doth not refuse,
In her own way and with a just reserve,
To sympathize with human suffering;
But for the pains, the fever, and the fret
Engendered of a weak, unquiet heart,
She hath no solace; and who seeks her when
These be the troubles over which he moans,
Reads in her unreplying lineaments
Rebukes, that, to the guilty consciousness,
Strike like contempt.

 

image via pete geniella on flickr

5. “summer stars” by carl sandberg

Bend low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars,
So near, strumming, strumming,
So lazy and hum-strumming.

 

image via pixabay

6. “before summer rain” by rainer maria rilke

Suddenly, from all the green around you,
something-you don’t know what-has disappeared;
you feel it creeping closer to the window,
in total silence. From the nearby wood

you hear the urgent whistling of a plover,
reminding you of someone’s Saint Jerome:
so much solitude and passion come
from that one voice, whose fierce request the downpour

will grant. The walls, with their ancient portraits, glide
away from us, cautiously, as though
they weren’t supposed to hear what we are saying.

And reflected on the faded tapestries now;
the chill, uncertain sunlight of those long
childhood hours when you were so afraid.

 

 

image via not that bob james on pixlr

7. “Summer” by louise gluck

Remember the days of our first happiness,
how strong we were, how dazed by passion,
lying all day, then all night in the narrow bed,
sleeping there, eating there too: it was summer,
it seemed everything had ripened
at once. And so hot we lay completely uncovered.
Sometimes the wind rose; a willow brushed the window.

But we were lost in a way, didn’t you feel that?
The bed was like a raft; I felt us drifting
far from our natures, toward a place where we’d discover nothing.
First the sun, then the moon, in fragments,
stone through the willow.
Things anyone could see.

Then the circles closed. Slowly the nights grew cool;
the pendant leaves of the willow
yellowed and fell. And in each of us began
a deep isolation, though we never spoke of this,
of the absence of regret.
We were artists again, my husband.
We could resume the journey.

 

image via wikipedia

8. “sonnet 18” by william shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
   So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
   So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

 

image via angela larose on flickr

9. “night swims” by marcia lebeau

All the kids went to the community pool every summer day. Mom made us wait for evening so she could swim her laps in peace. Sunlight skimmed

the water, dropped too low to filter down, but the night breeze warmed our plunges then chilled our towel-wrapped bodies. Mom’s blue terrycloth cover-up barely covered

her thighs as she shifted the car home. I would shiver upstairs to the shower and jump in with her. Unnerved by the curves and hair of her body

I didn’t possess. When would I turn this strange looking? We were ravenous on those nights. Always a quick salad, cherry tomatoes squirting seeds

inside our cheeks, lettuce, peppers, corn on the cob, green beans, the navy blue pitcher with white corn flowers full of ice tea. My friends called later. Their fingers sticking

to the phone from bomb pops in the afternoon, told me what I had missed at the pool during the day. Now, when I go to the gym pool I choose a lane

by the window graced with patches of sunlight, even when the lifeguard points to a darker one that’s open. I sit at the edge, dangle my feet and wait.

 

featured image via pixnio