A Dreamy Day and Tranquilly I Lie

Winslow Homer, “The New Novel”

Tuesday – Summer Solstice

Here’s a  poem by “hoosier poet” James Whitcomb Riley to welcome in the official beginning of summer. Riley wrote at a time when a popular poet could become wealthy from publishing poems in newspapers and giving public readings, and Riley did both. “A Summer Afternoon” is not a particularly taxing poem and that’s okay. Relax and enjoy.

A Summer Afternoon

By James Whitcomb Riley

A languid atmosphere, a lazy breeze,
With labored respiration, moves the wheat
From distant reaches, till the golden seas
Break in crisp whispers at my feet.

My book, neglected of an idle mind,
Hides for a moment from the eyes of men;
Or lightly opened by a critic wind,
Affrightedly reviews itself again.

Off through the haze that dances in the shine
The warm sun showers in the open glade,
The forest lies, a silhouette design
Dimmed through and through with shade.

A dreamy day; and tranquilly I lie
At anchor from all storms of mental strain;
With absent vision, gazing at the sky,
“Like one that hears it rain.”

The Katydid, so boisterous last night,
Clinging, inverted, in uneasy poise,
Beneath a wheat-blade, has forgotten quite
If “Katy DID or DIDN’T” make a noise.

The twitter, sometimes, of a wayward bird
That checks the song abruptly at the sound,
And mildly, chiding echoes that have stirred,
Sink into silence, all the more profound.

And drowsily I hear the plaintive strain
Of some poor dove . . . Why, I can scarcely keep
My heavy eyelids–there it is again–
“Coo-coo!”–I mustn’t–“Coo-coo!”–fall asleep!

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