Below – Sandy Thurlow: “Full Moon, Summer Solstice”
Art for the First Day of Summer – Edgar Degas: “Beach Scene”
Musings on the First Day of Summer: Henry James
“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
Below – Asher Brown Durand: “Summer Afternoon”
Art for the First Day of Summer – David Hockney: “A Bigger Splash”
A Poem for the First Day of Summer
“In Defense of Our Overgrown Garden”
by Matthea Harvey
Last night the apple trees shook and gave each lettuce a heart
Six hard red apples broke through the greenhouse glass and
Landed in the middle of those ever-so-slightly green leaves
That seem no mix of seeds and soil but of pastels and light and
Chalk x’s mark our oaks that are supposed to be cut down
I’ve seen the neighbors frown when they look over the fence
And see our espalier pear trees bowing out of shape I did like that
They looked like candelabras against the wall but what’s the sense
In swooning over pruning I said as much to Mrs. Jones and I swear
She threw her cane at me and walked off down the street without
It has always puzzled me that people coo over bonsai trees when
You can squint your eyes and shrink anything without much of
A struggle ensued with some starlings and the strawberry nets
So after untangling the two I took the nets off and watched birds
With red beaks fly by all morning at the window I reread your letter
About how the castles you flew over made crenellated shadows on
The water in the rainbarrel has overflowed and made a small swamp
I think the potatoes might turn out slightly damp don’t worry
If there is no fog on the day you come home I will build a bonfire
So the smoke will make the cedars look the way you like them
To close I’m sorry there won’t be any salad and I love you
Below – Ivan Shishkin: “Corner of overgrown garden. Goatweed-grass”
Art for the First Day of Summer – Winslow Homer: “Summer Night”
“Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the stars. To sit on a branch and study the clouds.”
“The dandelions and buttercups gild all the lawn: the drowsy bee stumbles among the clover tops, and summer sweetens all to me.”
Art for the First Day of Summer – Edward Hopper: “Summertime”
by Mark Jarman
The children are hiding among the raspberry canes.
They look big to one another, the garden small.
Already in their mouths this soft fruit
That lasts so briefly in the supermarket
Tastes like the past. The gritty wall,
Behind the veil of leaves, is hollow.
There are yellow wasps inside it. The children know.
They know the wall is hard, although it hums.
They know a lot and will not forget it soon.
When did we forget? But we were never
Children, never found where they were hiding
And hid with them, never followed
The wasp down into its nest
With a fingertip that still tingles.
We lie in bed at night, thinking about
The future, always the future, always forgetting
That it will be the past, hard and hollow,
Veiled and humming, soon enough.
Below – Frederick Warne: “Berry Picking”
Art for the First Day of Summer – Marie Spartali Stillman: “Love’s Messenger”
Musings on the First Day of Summer: Gertrude Jekyll
“What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.”
Below – Maxfield Parrish: “June Skies (A Perfect Day)”
Art for the First Day of Summer – Kate Elizabeth Bruce: “Musica”
A Poem for the First Day of Summer
by Frank Ormsey
The lights come on and stay on under the trees.
Visibly a whole neighborhood inhabits the dusk,
so punctual and in place it seems to deny
dark its dominion. Nothing will go astray,
the porch lamps promise. Sudden, as though a match
failed to ignite at the foot of the garden, the first squibs
trouble the eye. Impossible not to share
that sportive, abortive, clumsy, where-are-we-now
dalliance with night, such soothing relentlessness.
What should we make of fireflies, their quick flare
of promise and disappointment, their throwaway style?
Our heads turn this way and that. We are loath to miss
such jauntiness in nature. Those fugitive selves,
winged and at random! Our flickery might-have-beens
come up form the woods to haunt us! Our yet-to-be
as tentative frolic! What do fireflies say?
That loneliness made of light becomes at last
convivial singleness? That any antic spark
cruising the void might titillate creation?
And whether they spend themselves, or go to ground,
or drift with their lights out, they have left the gloom,
for as long as our eyes take to absorb such absence,
less than it seemed, as childless and deprived
as Chaos and Old Night. But ruffled, too,
as though it unearthed some memory of light
from its long blackout, a hospitable core
fit home for fireflies, brushed by fireflies’ wings.
Below – Daniel Ambrose: “Fireflies at Dusk”
“And the summer seems as though it would dream on for ever.”
Below – Frederic Michael Wood: “Summer Dreams”
Art for the First Day of Summer – John Brett: “Summer on the Cliffs”
“Then followed that beautiful season… Summer…. Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.”
Below- Pierre Auguste Renoir: “Summer Landscape”
Art for the First Day of Summer – John Byam Liston Shaw: “The Boer War” (Note: The model Shaw used for this painting was his sister Margaret Glencair who at the time was in mourning for her cousin who had been killed in the fighting in South Africa. When Shaw first exhibited this painting he added two lines to the title which came from the poem “A Bird Song, by Christina Rossetti: “Last Summer Greener Things Were Greener/Brambles Fewer, the blue sky bluer.”)
“The World in the Evening”
by Rachel Sherwood
As this suburban summer wanders toward dark
cats watch from their driveways — they are bored
and await miracles. The houses show, through windows
flashes of knife and fork, the blue light
of televisions, inconsequential fights
between wife and husband in the guest bathroom
voices sound like echoes in these streets
the chattering of awful boys as they plot
behind the juniper and ivy, miniature guerrillas
that mimic the ancient news of the world
and shout threats, piped high across mock fences
to girls riding by in the last pieces of light
the color of the sky makes brilliant reflection
in the water and oil along the curb
deepened aqua and the sharp pure rose of the clouds
there is no sun or moon, few stars wheel
above the domestic scene — this half-lit world
still, quiet calming the dogs worried by distant alarms
there — a woman in a window washes a glass
a man across the street laughs through an open door
utterly alien, alone. There is a time, seconds between
the last light and the dark stretch ahead, when color
is lost — the girl on her swing becomes a swift
apparition, black and white flowing suddenly into night.
Below – “Girl on Swing”
Art for the First Day of Summer – Thomas Edwin Mostyn: “Womanhood”
Musings on the First Day of Summer: William Carlos Williams
“In summer, the song sings itself.”
A Poem for the First Day of Summer
by Tony Hoagland
Sometimes I wish I were still out
on the back porch, drinking jet fuel
with the boys, getting louder and louder
as the empty cans drop out of our paws
like booster rockets falling back to Earth
and we soar up into the summer stars.
Summer. The big sky river rushes overhead,
bearing asteroids and mist, blind fish
and old space suits with skeletons inside.
On Earth, men celebrate their hairiness,
and it is good, a way of letting life
out of the box, uncapping the bottle
to let the effervescence gush
through the narrow, usually constricted neck.
And now the crickets plug in their appliances
in unison, and then the fireflies flash
dots and dashes in the grass, like punctuation
for the labyrinthine, untrue tales of sex
someone is telling in the dark, though
no one really hears. We gaze into the night
as if remembering the bright unbroken planet
we once came from,
to which we will never
be permitted to return.
We are amazed how hurt we are.
We would give anything for what we have.
Art for the First Day of Summer – Childe Hassam: “Summer Sunlight”
“Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.”
Below – Amanda Dagg: “Relaxing Summer Days”
“In the Mushroom Summer”
by David Mason
Colorado turns Kyoto in a shower,
mist in the pines so thick the crows delight
(or seem to), winging in obscurity.
The ineffectual panic of a squirrel
who chattered at my passing gave me pause
to watch his Ponderosa come and go—
long needles scratching cloud. I’d summited
but knew it only by the wildflower meadow,
the muted harebells, paintbrush, gentian,
scattered among the locoweed and sage.
Today my grief abated like water soaking
underground, its scar a little path
of twigs and needles winding ahead of me
downhill to the next bend. Today I let
the rain soak through my shirt and was unharmed.
Below – StarlingNight: “Misty Pines”
Welcome, Wonderful Summer
Below – Charles E. Burchfield: “Summer Solstice (In Memory of the American Chestnut Tree)”