Poets can be inspired by many things, but honestly — bugs? I guess if you’re writing about the month of August, it’s almost inevitable that some variety of insect will appear. You’ll find bugs in three of these August poems as well as an interesting focus on sounds. Perhaps it’s because it’s too hot to do anything but sit and listen to the late summer insect chorus!
An August Midnight
Thomas Hardy – 1840 – 1928
A shaded lamp and a waving blind,
And the beat of a clock from a distant floor:
On this scene enter—winged, horned, and spined—
A longlegs, a moth, and a dumbledore;
While ‘mid my page there idly stands
A sleepy fly, that rubs its hands…
Thus meet we five, in this still place,
At this point of time, at this point in space.
—My guests besmear my new-penned line,
Or bang at the lamp and fall supine.
“God’s humblest, they!” I muse. Yet why?
They know Earth-secrets that know not I.
Helen Hunt Jackson – 1830 — 1885
Silence again. The glorious symphony
Hath need of pause and interval of peace.
Some subtle signal bids all sweet sounds cease,
Save hum of insects’ aimless industry.
Pathetic summer seeks by blazonry
Of color to conceal her swift decrease.
Weak subterfuge! Each mocking day doth fleece
A blossom, and lay bare her poverty.
Poor middle-agèd summer! Vain this show!
Whole fields of golden-rod cannot offset
One meadow with a single violet;
And well the singing thrush and lily know,
Spite of all artifice which her regret
Can deck in splendid guise, their time to go!
Long Island Sound
Emma Lazarus – 1849 –1887
I see it as it looked one afternoon
In August,—by a fresh soft breeze o’erblown.
The swiftness of the tide, the light thereon,
A far-off sail, white as a crescent moon.
The shining waters with pale currents strewn,
The quiet fishing-smacks, the Eastern cove,
The semi-circle of its dark, green grove.
The luminous grasses, and the merry sun
In the grave sky; the sparkle far and wide,
Laughter of unseen children, cheerful chirp
Of crickets, and low lisp of rippling tide,
Light summer clouds fantastical as sleep
Changing unnoted while I gazed thereon.
All these fair sounds and sights I made my own.
by Hilaire Belloc – 1870 – 1953
The soldier month, the bulwark of the year,
That never more shall hear such victories told;
He stands apparent with his heaven-high spear,
And helmeted of grand Etruscan gold.
Our harvest is the bounty he has won,
The loot his fiery temper takes by strength.
Oh! Paladin of the Imperial sun!
Oh! crown of all the seasons come at length!
This is sheer manhood; this is Charlemagne,
When he with his wide host came conquering home
From vengeance under Roncesvalles ta’en.
Or when his bramble beard flaked red with foam
Of bivouac wine-cups on the Lombard plain,
What time he swept to grasp the world at Rome.
And don’t miss Dana Gioia’s California Hills in August. She’s captured well the softness of golden foothills.