Golfer James Dent knows all about warm, sunny days, especially in his profession. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t able to sum up what, to him, is a perfect summer day: “A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken."
Novelist Albert Camus put it more poetically: “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
Writers and artists especially sigh for what summer means, and they sum it up in summer catch phrases. “There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart,” said Celia Thaxter, while poet Wallace Stevens yearned, “The summer night is like a perfection of thought.”
Those are great ways to keep those long summer days alive through the cold, dark winter!
An anonymous Swedish oracle had it right: “A life without love is like a year without summer.” But summer loves have a special way of blooming, and being remembered, by anyone who was ever young and in love.
Something about the warmth of summer and the elegant summer nights seems to nurture and cherish those summer romances, the memory of which can easily last a lifetime.
Shakespeare, in his aptly named fantasy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, wooed the swaying flowers of a beached margent with this romantic words: “These are the forgeries of jealousy; And never, since the middle summer's spring, Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead, By paved fountain or by rushy brook, Or in the beached margent of the sea, To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind, But with thy brawls thou hast disturbed our sport.”
In addition, in the romance Romeo and Juliet, the love-struck Juliet swooned to her beloved: “This bud of love, by summer's ripening breath, May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.”
The Bard truly can’t be beaten for romantic summer catch phrases!
Another anonymous soul, in love with summer, captured the essence of both the season and the love it brings forth: “Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer's year - it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul.”
Still, like the season, summer love is torrid but brief. Even centuries ago, British poet Alexander Pope noticed and noted the phenomenon: “The shepherds shun the noonday heat...To closer shades the panting flocks remove; Ye gods! And is there no relief for love?”
A friend of Pope, poet Thomas Parnell, had perfectly succinct words for summer love: “Let those love now who never loved before; Let those who always loved, now love the more.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay, an American poet known for her lovely verse, sighed in these lines at the fickleness of summer love: “I know I am but summer to your heart,and not the full four seasons of the year.”
English poetess Elizabeth Barrett Browning had a myriad of ways to commemorate her love for her husband, Robert Browning: "I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you."
Then there is Barrett Browning’s most famous lovelorn line: “How do I love you? Let me count the ways” - words obviously penned by the round white light of a full summer moon.
One of the wonderful joys of summer is the sheer laziness of the season. British scientist and educator Sir John Lubbock said these words on summer more than a century ago: “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.”
All said, however, perhaps American writer Henry James, a contemporary of Lubbock, said it best: “Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”