Summer Poetry

And an oily smoke that rolls through the trees/
into the night of the last American summer . . . —Major Jackson

compiled by David Johnson

The summer's flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself it only live and die.
William Shakespeare (1564–1616) Sonnet 94 (before 1598)
sweet pea flowers


And pomp, and feast, and revelry,
With mask, and antique pageantry,
Such sights as youthful poets dream
On summer eves by haunted stream.
John Milton (1608–1674) L'Allegro (1631)

Summer ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the
        Stooks arise
    Around; up above, what wind-walks! what
        lovely behavior
    Of silk-sack clouds! Has wilder, willful-waiver
Meal-drift molded ever and melted across skies?
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889) No. 38, "Hurrahing in Harvest," Poems (1918)
Read more verse honoring the seasons.


Go down to Kew in lilac time (it isn't far from London!)
And you shall wander hand in hand with Love in summer's wonderland.

Alfred Noyes (1880–1958) "The Barrel-Organ," Poems (1904)


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.

—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) Sonnet 18 (before 1598)
Now welcome, somer, with thy sonne softe,
That hast this winters wedres overshake.

Geoffery Chaucer (1343-1400) The Parliament of Fowls (1380–1386)


Night of the south winds - night of the large few
stars!
Still nodding night - mad naked summer night.

Walt Whitman (1819–1881) "Song of Myself" (Part 21) Leaves of Grass (1855)


'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.

Thomas Moore (1779–1852) "The Last Rose of Summer," Irish Melodies (1807-1834)


Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set.

George Noel Gordon, Lord Byron (1788–1824) Don Juan (1819–1824)


All good things vanish less than in a day,
Peace, plenty, pleasure, suddenly decay.
Go not yet away, bright soul of the sad year,
The earth is hell when thou leav'st to appear.

Thomas Nash (1567–1601) "Summer's Last Will and Testament" (1600)


See a glossary of poetry terms.
Bright was the summer's noon when quickening steps
Followed each other till a dreary moor
Was crossed, a bare ridge clomb, upon whose top
Standing alone, as from a rampart's edge,
I overlooked the bed of Windermere,
Like a vast river, stretching in the sun.

William Wordsworth (1770–1850) "Summer Vacation," The Prelude (1805)
Read biographies of notable poets.

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