The Meadow-Scented Month July

James Dickson Innes, “South of France, Bozouls Near Rodez”


My mother alerted me to this “July” poem by Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago. I gather from it that, in the part of Russia where Pasternak lived, the summer winds blow with considerable force.

Like the month of July generally, the winds get in the way of efficiency. Like a summer lodger, July has its own agenda and we can’t really complain if it interrupts our carefully regulated life. After all, July dances so enchantingly and it smells so lovely.


By Boris Pasternak

A ghost is roaming through the building, 
And shadows in the attic browse; 
Persistently intent on mischief 
A goblin roams about the house. 

He gets into your way, he fusses, 
You hear his footsteps overhead, 
He tears the napkin off the table 
And creeps in slippers to the bed. 

With feet unwiped he rushes headlong 
On gusts of draught into the hall 
And whirls the curtain, like a dancer, 
Towards the ceiling, up the wall. 

Who is this silly mischief-maker, 
This phantom and this double-face? 
He is our guest, our summer lodger, 
Who spends with us his holidays. 

Our house is taken in possession 
By him, while he enjoys a rest. 
July, with summer air and thunder— 
He is our temporary guest. 

July, who scatters from his pockets 
The fluff of blow-balls in a cloud, 
Who enters through the open window, 
Who chatters to himself aloud, 

Unkempt, untidy, absent-minded, 
Soaked through with smell of dill and rye, 
With linden-blossom, grass and beet-leaves, 
The meadow-scented month July.

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

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