A Day in Summer

after Rilke

Lord, how we privilege this season
of blushing fruits and yellow dreams

our streets already silent as Christmas
but for eyes jealousy, a curtain breathing.

Grant us one more day: teachers teach, plumbers plumb
(with dim accuracy) and writers, one verb is required
before Land Cruisers are hitched to caravans
for coastal shacks and camping grounds.

Whoever’s left behind will stay behind;
who lives alone will continue so,
waking in pale heat, sweating a little
drafting spiritual songs on winter blooms
and, along the blazing avenues
wander, fitfully ducking from shade to shade.


Image: Unidentified small girl leaping onto the beach, c. 1930s, by Sam Hood, c/- State Library NSW on Flickr. An almost summer poem after Rilke’s wonderful A Day in Autumn. Laura is hosting Dverse tonight and introduces us to the work of American surrealist poet Samuel Greenberg (1893-1917). Yes, he was only 24 when he died of tuberculosis. His 1915 poem The Pale Impromptu – published posthumously, contains a string of 21 ‘charms’ – pairs of words that run down the poem like a charm bracelet. Laura asks us to include five of these in our poem. I’ve chosen: Dim Accuracy, Eyes jealousy, Pale heat, Spiritual songs and Yellow dreams.

And for your pleasure here’s the brilliant jazz pianist Ryo Fukui with Scenery from 1976 (the album contains both Autumn Leaves and Early Summer, so it fits – it’s also fantastic…).

18 thoughts on “A Day in Summer

  1. I love that image, Peter and that the poem is ‘after Rilke’, one of my favourite poets. You’ve captured the emptiness of the streets so beautifully in the lines:
    ‘our streets already silent as Christmas
    but for eyes jealousy, a curtain breathing’.
    That curtain breathing is genius! As is the ‘fitfully ducking from shade to shade’.
    An almost summer poem when here it’s almost winter.
    What a surprise to listen to the music and find that the first track is a song I loved on a Frank Sinatra album I gave my father for Christmas when I was a child, ‘It could happen to you’.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Whoever’s left behind will stay behind;
    who lives alone will continue so,
    waking in pale heat,”

    This for me is the heart and essence of the poem! Vividly drawn and oh so evocative! 💝

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Perched as you are down under, your world is topsy-turvy, as Christmas brings drought, carcinogens and more flies. In 1977-78, I spent 4 months, November through February, in Sydney, doing a play. It was a high point for me, though a swan song for my theatrical career.

    Like

  4. kaykuala
    waking in pale heat, sweating a little
    drafting spiritual songs on winter blooms
    and, along the blazing avenues
    wander, fitfully ducking from shade to shade.

    In these trying times, everyone is hoping for the best of times. Some get it some don’t. Very true pic Frank!

    Hank

    Like

  5. That last stanza speaks so well to the beastly hot of a SUMMER day! It seems so strange that Australia is heading in to summer as our trees drop their leaves and Boston and the skeleton trees will soon announce that winter is coming here. We loved our travel in Australia several years ago!

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  6. A gorgeous fatalistic piece, Peter. May your one more day be evermore. I would like to live when all is right in the world, and we all know our place, bless the plumbers and their land cruisers. Inside me, sadly, a darkness rises, but thanks for the memory. How lovely it was, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

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