Friday, June 22, 2007

Midsummer -- a Poetry Friday post

Today, a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. "Who?" you ask. Why, one of the most popular poets of the late 19th and early 20th century. Most of you are familiar with some of her lines, for she wrote a poem called "Solitude", which begins as follows: "Laugh and the world laughs with you;/ weep and you weep alone." Wilcox earned a comfortable living in her time from her poems, but has slipped into near obscurity because her poems were more popular than literary. She wrote using more traditional forms than many of the other major poets of her time, and yet, given her prolific production and commercial success, she has sometimes been called a "bad major poet" rather than a minor poet. After her husband's death, Wilcox turned to mysticism, and was one of the founders of the American Rosicrucian movement (which I do not pretend to understand, but it appears not to be a religion (per se), but to be a mystical approach to mysticism; so mystical that my headlights can't quite get through the fog to sort out what it is, actually). But I digress.

Having stumbled upon Ella Wheeler Wilcox, I must say that I like some of what I've read. The poem I've selected is particularly appropriate today, which is (depending on where you live) the day after Midsummer, or two days before Midsummer for those who still go by the fixed date of June 24th according to the Julian calendar.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

After the May time, and after the June time,
Rare with blossoms and perfumes sweet,
Cometh the round world's royal noon time,
The red midsummer of blazing heat.
When the sun, like an eye that never closes,
Bends on the earth its fervid gaze,
And the winds are still, and the crimson roses
Droop and wither and die in its rays.

Unto my heart has come that season,
O my lady, my worshipped one,
When over the stars of Pride and Reason
Sails Love's cloudless, noonday sun.
Like a great red ball in my bosom burning
With fires that nothing can quench or tame.
It glows till my heart itself seems turning
Into a liquid lake of flame.

The hopes half shy, and the sighs all tender,
The dreams and fears of an earlier day,
Under the noontide's royal splendour,
Droop like roses and wither away.
From the hills of doubt no winds are blowing,
From the isle of pain no breeze is sent.
Only the sun in a white heat glowing
Over an ocean of great content.

Sink, O my soul, in this golden glory,
Die, O my heart, in thy rapture-swoon,
For the Autumn must come with its mournful story,
And Love's midsummer will fade too soon.

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is at A Wrung Sponge.


Todd-Michael St. Pierre said...

I for one love Ella, and this is one of my favorite poems of hers, it simply rolls off the tongue and flows down the page/screen... Thanks for sharing!

Kelly Fineman said...

I hadn't heard of her until the other day, when I started searching for a midsummer poem for today's post. Some of her poems are glorious, and I really loved this one, too.

Thanks for stopping by!

alexgirl said...

what a lovely poem. I love the line about "love's cloudless, noonday sun." what a nice image. Thanks for posting it!!