Greeting July – Origins
In the words of one historian, “It (July) was named by the Roman Senate in honor of the Roman general, Julius Caesar, it being the month of his birth. Prior to that, it was called Quintilis.”
Greeting July with Poetry: Francis Thompson
Greeting July with Song – Uriah Heep: “July Morning”
Greeting July with Prose: Kate Bergquist
“Colored scents that fill the air as drowsy insects hum around in the meadow is the place of secret magic where nature alone renews itself.”
Greeting July with Poetry: Emily Dickinson
Where is the Bee—
Where is the Blush—
Where is the Hay?
Ah, said July—
Where is the Seed—
Where is the Bud—
Where is the May—
Greeting July with Song – The Decemberists: “July! July!”
On This Date – Part I of VI: Haleakala National Park
1 July 1961 – Haleakala National Park is created on the island of Maui in Hawaii. In the words of one historian, “It was originally created as part of the Hawaii National Park along with the volcanoes of Mauna Loa and Kilauea on the island of Hawaiʻi in 1916. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was made into a separate national park in 1961. The park area was designated an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980. The name ‘Haleakalā’ is Hawaiian for ‘house of the sun.’ According to a local legend, the demigod Maui imprisoned the sun here in order to lengthen the day.”
On This Date – Part II of VI: Popeye
1 July 1929 – American cartoonist Elzie Segar creates “Popeye,” and in 1980 Robin Williams brought Popeye to life.
On This Date – Part III of VI: The Beatles
1 July 1967 – The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album reaches number one on American popular music charts and remains in that position for fifteen weeks.
Greeting July with Poetry: Richard Wilbur
“Obscurely yet most surely called to praise,
As sometimes summer calls us all, I said
The hills are heavens full of branching ways
Where star-nosed moles fly overhead the dead;
I said the trees are mines in air, I said
See how the sparrow burrows in the sky!
And then I wondered why this mad instead
Perverts our praise to uncreation, why
Such savour’s in this wrenching things awry.
Does sense so stale that it must needs derange
The world to know it? To a praiseful eye
Should it not be enough of fresh and strange
That trees grow green, and moles can course in clay,
And sparrows sweep the ceiling of our day?”
Greeting July with Song – Laura Veirs: “July Flame”
On This Date – Part IV of VI: Bikini Atoll
1 July 1946 – The United States detonates an atomic bomb on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. It was the world’s fourth atomic explosion.
“Radio Bikini” is a decidedly sobering and poignant documentary about the aftermath of nuclear testing on Bikini Atoll. Directed by Robert Stone, it was nominated for an Academy Award in 1988 for Best Documentary Feature.
On This Date – Part V of VI: The Battle of Gettysburg
1 July 1863 – The Battle of Gettysburg begins when elements of the Army of the Potomac, commanded by George Meade and John F. Reynolds (who was killed at the start of the battle), and the Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by Robert E. Lee, collide in what was to prove a prelude to the bloody second and third days. When the battle ended on 3 July, approximately 50,000 men had been killed, wounded, or captured – the largest number of casualties of the entire Civil War. Lee’s northward advance had been halted, and most historians consider the Battle of Gettysburg the turning point in the war.
Above – Overview map of the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, 1 July 1863.
Below – First Shot Monument, erected in honor of Union soldier Lt. Marcellus Jones, who, according to lore, fired the first shot of the battle from the spot where the Monument is located; “The Battle of Gettysburg,” by Thure de Thulstrup; a view from Cemetery Ridge, site of the most important engagement in the battle – Pickett’s ill-fated Charge.
On This Date – Part VI of VI: Basho
“There came a day when the clouds drifting along with the wind aroused a wanderlust in me, and I set off on a journey to roam along the seashores.” – Basho
1 July 1689 – Japanese haiku poet Matsuo Basho sets out on his 156-day journey through Japan’s remote northeastern region of Tohoku. He would later publish his poem-filled travelogue “The Narrow Road to the Deep North.”
Some haiku from “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”:
The chestnut by the eaves
In magnificent bloom
By men of the world.
Summer grass –
All that remains
Of the warriors’ dreams.
In the utter silence
Of a temple,
A cicada’s voice alone
Penetrates the rocks.
Greeting July with Poetry: Wallace Stevens
“The summer night is like a perfection of thought.”
Greeting July with Poetry: Edna St. Vincent Millay
“I know I am but summer to your heart,
And not the full four seasons of the year;
And you must welcome from another part
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear.
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing;
And I have loved you all too long and well
To carry still the high sweet breast of Spring.
Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes,
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums,
That you may hail anew the bird and rose
When I come back to you, as summer comes.
Else will you seek, at some not distant time,
Even your summer in another clime.”
Greeting July with Prose: Henry David Thoreau
“Live in each season as it passes: breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit.”
Greeting July with Poetry: Walt Whitman
“I celebrate myself, and what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease… observing a spear of summer grass.”
Welcome, Lovely July