Find the 10 best summer poems for poets and lovers of poetry here (plus a few more that have been cleverly hidden in hyper links throughout the post). From classics to contemporary and for poetry lovers of all ages, this post has something for everyone.
We're into the dog days of summer here in Georgia. So it's a great time to cuddle up with some summer poems in the shade of a tree or the air conditioning of a house. There's so much to do this time of year.
After all, summer is the season of fishing, gardening, and lawn mowing. It's the season of fireflies, grasshoppers, and flies. The heat finds you drinking Kool-Aid in parking lots in the day as well as on those nearly mythic summer nights. And the list below collects my 10 favorite summer poems (plus a few more that I've cleverly hidden in hyper links throughout this post).
If I’ve missed your favorite, no problem. Share your favorite summer poem in the comments below.
Recreate Your Poetry!
The revision process doesn't have to be scary, intimidating, or something you're supposed to do (but don't really want to do). In fact, it's most fun and productive when it's approached as part of the creative process. After all, revision is just a continuation of the creation process, which is why Robert Lee Brewer likes to refer to it as "recreating poetry."
In the 48-minute Re-Creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems tutorial, Brewer covers common excuses for avoiding revision (and how to overcome them), three important rules for revision, seven revision filters, and so much more!
#10: “Bed in Summer,” by Robert Louis Stevenson
This is a nostalgic poem for me (and many other people) during summers in which I had to go to bed while the sun (and other people) were still outside enjoying the longer days. It cuts straight to the heart of a problem that many children have to deal with every summer.
#9: “More Than Enough,” by Marge Piercy
This poem captures the initial overwhelming fullness of summer. Piercy writes, "Rich fresh wine / of June, we stagger into you smeared / with pollen, overcome as the turtle / laying her eggs in roadside sand." That which calls to us most about summer is also something we find hard to fight against--and maybe we'd prefer not to.
#8: “In the Mountains on a Summer Day,” by Li Po
If Piercy's poem captures the overwhelming abundance of summer, Po's gets into the simplicity of a season in which pleasure can be derived from a breeze blowing across a person's bare head.
#7: “Sonnet 18,” by William Shakespeare
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate:," begins one of Shakespeare's most popular sonnets. While Shakespeare uses summer as an object to juxtapose against his subject, this may be about as sweet a summer song as a poet ever penned.
#6: “Heat,” by H.D.
When we're talking summer poems, you had to know that someone would bring the heat, and Hilda Doolittle (or H.D.) obliged with this poem in which she implores the wind "to rend open," "cut apart," and "plough through" the oppressive heat.
#5: “The Woman Who Turned Down a Date with a Cherry Farmer,” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
This poem examines the regret of opportunities missed during the summer. Nezhukumatathil turns down the query of a cherry farmer and immediately regrets it: "I just know my summer would've been / full of pies, tartlets, turnovers—so much jubilee."
#4: “Goblin Market,” by Christina Rossetti
But then again, there's a danger in accepting all the fruits of summer as evidenced in Rossetti's classic poem, "Goblin Market." Easily the longest poem on this list, this poem starts with two sister's hearing the cries of goblins offering their fruits.
#3: “Casey at the Bat,” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer
A favorite of mine from my childhood, there's no way I could make a summer poetry list that doesn't include this piece about the high hopes and low disappointments of baseball. My children have heard me read it to them at bedtime several times (click here for my 20 Best Poems for Kids list).
Here's a fun Disney interpretation of the poem.
After watching that, be sure to read Thayer's “Casey at the Bat” here.
#2: “As imperceptibly as grief,” by Emily Dickinson
The beauty of this summer poem by Dickinson is that it documents the "imperceptible" transition of summer into autumn (so maybe it's an autumn poem too?). In this poem, summer "lapses" away like grief and leads to something beautiful (namely, the harvest time).
#1: “Blackberry-Picking,” by Seamus Heaney
Picking up where Dickinson leaves off, Heaney's poem documents the end of summer, the richness of the season and the certainty that it never lasts. The blackberries, like the summer, brought excitement every year, but as Heaney writes, "Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not."
Is your favorite summer poem missing? Be sure to share it in the comments below.
There are many that I just couldn't fit onto my Top 10 list. For instance, I really wanted to include Pablo Neruda's "The Morning is Full" and Carl Sandburg's "Back Yard," but I just couldn't find a good place to include them in this post.
If you're all summered out, be sure to cool off with my 10 Best Winter Poems for Poets and Lovers of Poetry.