Country Summer

By Léonie Adams 1899–1988 Leonie Adams
Now the rich cherry, whose sleek wood,   
And top with silver petals traced   
Like a strict box its gems encased,   
Has spilt from out that cunning lid,   
All in an innocent green round,   
Those melting rubies which it hid;   
With moss ripe-strawberry-encrusted,   
So birds get half, and minds lapse merry   
To taste that deep-red, lark’s-bite berry,   
And blackcap bloom is yellow-dusted.

The wren that thieved it in the eaves   
A trailer of the rose could catch   
To her poor droopy sloven thatch,
And side by side with the wren’s brood—
O lovely time of beggar’s luck—
Opens the quaint and hairy bud;   
And full and golden is the yield   
Of cows that never have to house,   
But all night nibble under boughs,   
Or cool their sides in the moist field.

Into the rooms flow meadow airs,
The warm farm baking smell’s blown round.   
Inside and out, and sky and ground   
Are much the same; the wishing star,   
Hesperus, kind and early born,   
Is risen only finger-far;
All stars stand close in summer air,
And tremble, and look mild as amber;   
When wicks are lighted in the chamber,   
They are like stars which settled there.

Now straightening from the flowery hay,   
Down the still light the mowers look,   
Or turn, because their dreaming shook,   
And they waked half to other days,   
When left alone in the yellow stubble   
The rusty-coated mare would graze.   
Yet thick the lazy dreams are born,   
Another thought can come to mind,   
But like the shivering of the wind,   
Morning and evening in the corn.

Léonie Adams, “Country Summer” from Poems: A Selection (New York: The Noonday Press, 1959). Used by permission of Judith Farr, Literary Executrix of the Estate of Léonie Adams.

Source: Poems: A Selection (1959)

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Poet Léonie Adams 1899–1988

Subjects Nature, Summer, Landscapes & Pastorals

Poetic Terms Pastoral, Rhymed Stanza


An educator, consultant, editor, and poet, Leonie Adams was best known for her lyric poetry reminiscent of both the Romantic and Metaphysical periods. Her poetry won her several awards, including the Harriet Monroe Poetry Award, the Shelley Memorial Award, and the Bollingen Prize. She served in editorial capacities for both Wilson Publishing and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City during the 1920s and later taught . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Summer, Landscapes & Pastorals

Poetic Terms Pastoral, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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