Day after day, day after still day, The summer has begun to pass away. Starlings at twilight fly clustered and call, And branches bend, and leaves begin to fall. The meadow and the orchard grass are mown, And the meadowlark’s house is cut down.
The little lantern bugs have doused their fires, The swallows sit in rows along the wires. Berry and grape appear among the flowers Tangled against the wall in secret bowers, And cricket now begins to hum the hours Remaining to the passion’s slow procession Down from the high place and the golden session Wherein the sun was sacrificed for us. A failing light, no longer numinous, Now frames the long and solemn afternoons Where butterflies regret their closed cocoons. We reach the place unripe, and made to know As with a sudden knowledge that we go Away forever, all hope of return Cut off, hearing the crackle of the burn- ing blade behind us, and the terminal sound Of apples dropping on the dry ground. ~Howard Nemerov from “Summer Elegy’