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Featured Poem: A Something in a Summer’s Day by Emily Dickinson

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 8th August 2011

Right now, summer is very much in full swing – it’s August, apparently the happiest month of the year, it may or may not be sunny/hot/humid/raining/cool (delete as applicable) and, the most significant marker that the season is at its peak; the schools being ‘out’ for six weeks or so. While the kids are relishing their stretch of unbroken freedom, running riot and getting up to everything and nothing all at once, the adults might not be quite so overjoyed or instead, find themselves envious of the amount of time the littler ones get to kick back and relax. Hopefully there’ll be some time found in the schedule for a well-deserved break, regardless of age; a chance to put away pens, mobiles or laptops (or otherwise pick them up), pick up a few books or just escape from everything. Even the most active of us are entitled to a bit of a haziness and laziness at the height of summer; the days seem designed for it (who can really concentrate when the heat is on and the sun is shining? It’s just as well for collective productivity that such conditions aren’t a staple of the British summer…)

It did strike me however, as I slurped on an ice-lolly, that the youngest generation (kids, teens; maybe stretching just past school-leavers age) seem to have a monopoly on the season of summer. Perhaps it’s just a fact of life; as with so many other situations and scenarios, summertime progressively loses a little more of its shine as time marches on and the realities and responsibilities of life get in the way of lounging around and larking about. Looking back at summers of the past, perhaps through rose-tinted sunglasses, things did seem brighter and the days, even when they were filled with not much at all (even the inevitable bout of midsummer boredom could be looked back on with fondness), were endless; a daisy-chain of days-out, adventures (both actual and imagined) and experiences. As children the summer was ours; we took full ownership of it with both hands. Now the older we become, the grip loosens and relinquishes to other forces beyond our control.

There’s a chance I may be verging a little too much on the severe side of pessimism with this assertion; of course, summer doesn't become completely redundant of its joys with age and time, but in the absence of luxurious, interrupted and unmarked leisure time comes the chance to look at summer life from a different perspective; to catch the little things in finer detail and savour them to a previously unappreciated degree. The world may not be quite as wide as it once was in the days of youthful summers but a narrowed focus isn't necessarily a bad thing. Offering an outlook that is on different level again is Emily Dickinson; never one to consider the conventional, this vision of a summer’s day sees both far beyond the surface and with magnified and pointed precision. There certainly is something in a summer’s day, though whatever that something is inevitably alters from day to day, year to year. Here’s to finding something particularly special in this certain summer’s day.

A Something in a Summer’s Day

A something in a summer’s Day
As slow her flambeaux burn away
Which solemnizes me.

A something in a summer’s noon —
A depth — an Azure — a perfume —
Transcending ecstasy.

And still within a summer’s night
A something so transporting bright
I clap my hands to see —

Then veil my too inspecting face
Lets such a subtle — shimmering grace
Flutter too far for me —

The wizard fingers never rest —
The purple brook within the breast
Still chafes it narrow bed —

Still rears the East her amber Flag —
Guides still the sun along the Crag
His Caravan of Red —

So looking on — the night — the morn
Conclude the wonder gay —
And I meet, coming thro’ the dews
Another summer’s Day!

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

3 thoughts on “Featured Poem: A Something in a Summer’s Day by Emily Dickinson

louise says:

so true totally convinced it never rained in the summer holidays when I was a kid!!!

r says:

The violence over the last few days made me think of a poem we read in a reading group, we couldn’t quite understand it (which seems to fit here) but some of the lines and the ideas say something about what I have seen, heard and felt.


Anger which breaks a man into children,
Which breaks the child into two equal birds,
And after that the bird into a pair of little eggs:
The poor man’s anger
Has one oil against two vinegars.

Anger which breaks a tree into leaves
And the leaf into unequal buds
And the bud into telescopic grooves’
The poor man’s anger
Has two rivers agains many seas.

Anger which breaks good into doubts
And doubt into three similar arcs
And then the arc into unexpected tombs;
The poor man’s anger
Has one steel against two daggers.

Anger which breaks the soul into bodies
And the body into dissimilar organs
And the organ into octave thoughts;
The poor man’s anger
Has one central fire against two craters.

r says:

poem by Cesar Vallejo

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