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  • The Four Seasons
  • Edited by J.D. McClatchy
    Introduction by J.D. McClatchy
  • Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780307268341
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The Four Seasons

Poems

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Synopsis|Excerpt|Table of Contents

Synopsis

For the poet, even the most minute details of the natural world are starting points for flights of the imagination, and the pages of this collection celebrating the four seasons are brimming with an extraordinary range of observation and imagery. 

Here are poets past and present, from Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Wordsworth to Whitman, Dickinson, and Thoreau, from Keats, Blake, and Hopkins to Elizabeth Bishop, Ted Hughes, Amy Clampitt, Mary Oliver, and W. S. Merwin. Here are poems that speak of the seasons as measures of earthly time or as states of mind or as the physical expressions of the ineffable. From Robert Frost’s tribute to the evanescence of spring in “Nothing Gold Can Stay” to Langston Hughes’s moody “Summer Night” in Harlem, from the “stopped woods” in Marie Ponsot’s “End of October” to the chilling “mind of winter” in Wallace Stevens’s “The Snow Man,” the poems in this volume engage vividly with the seasons and, through them, with the ways in which we understand and engage the world outside ourselves.

Excerpt

FROM THE INTRODUCTION

The seasons are both segments of time and states of mind. Though ourword ‘‘season’’ derives from the Latin for ‘‘sowing’’ and refers thereby only to spring, every culture has had terms – whether winter and summer, or rainy and dry – for the sequence of great climatic changes by which the world transforms itself every year. But it’s more than what is going on outside. Our hearts have seasons as well. Mostly, we call them moods, and we lay our plans by their accustomed recurrences. We recall the crucial moments in our lives by the weather that still swirls around them in memory. Weddings and family reunions, getaways and homecomings are most often scheduled by the season. Yes, we have urgent appointments and traditional holidays, our deadlines and habits. But our bodies and their tides of desire seem to move more slowly, and are governed by the larger, more dramatic and decisive movements of the sun itself – the arrival of light and the opulence of warmth, then their slow fading and cold withdrawal. Aren’t, in fact, the seasons like the stages of a love affair?

This is where the poets come in. They are enthusiasts and brooders. Love and death are their stock-in-trade. But first of all, they are observers. A strong imagination begins with a keen eye. The poet is interested in both the detail and the scheme, in both the streak on the tulip and the nature of beauty which the flower represents. This is why the seasons have, down the centuries, had a special appeal for poets. (It’s interesting though obvious to note that modern poets from England and especially from New England, where weather patterns
are more extreme, are more likely to write about the seasons than poets from more steadily temperate parts.) This book is a virtual anthology of small details, because the seasons invite us to catalogue the terms of our love for the world. It takes hours of observation to get the tiniest half-line right that describes, say, the precise shade of a bird’s wing in flight. And such details are then the starting-point of metaphor. We can’t see anything exactly as it is unless we first see it as something else.

Table of Contents

Foreword



SPRING

John Clare First Sight of Spring
Thomas Hardy The Year’s Awakening
Emily Dickinson ‘‘Light exists in Spring’’
Mary Oliver Spring
William Shakespeare ‘‘It was a lover and his lass’’
Robert Frost Nothing Gold Can Stay
Richard Wilbur March
Gerard Manley Hopkins Spring
Stevie Smith Black March
Robert Frost Spring Pools
A. E. Housman ‘‘Loveliest of trees’’
Ted Hughes March Morning Unlike Others
Robert Frost Putting in the Seed
William Shakespeare Spring
A. E. Housman The Lent Lily
Jean Garrigue Spring Song II
James Merrill Another April
A. R. Ammons Resurrections
Elizabeth Bishop Cold Spring
William Wordsworth Lines Written in Early Spring
Kay Ryan Sonnet to Spring
Thomas Nashe Spring
Robert Herrick Corinna’s Going a-Maying
William Carlos Williams The Widow’s Lament in Springtime
D. H. Lawrence The Enkindled Spring
Charlotte Mew ‘‘I so liked Spring’’
Emily Dickinson ‘‘A little Madness in the Spring’’
Christina Rossetti Another Spring
Henry Reed Naming of Parts
May Swenson April Light
Richard Wilbur A Storm in April
Robert Herrick To Daffodils
Sara Teasdale There Will Come Soft Rains
Robert Browning Home-Thoughts, from Abroad
Lizette Woodworth Reese April in Town
E. E. Cummings [in Just-]
Walt Whitman Out of May’s Shows Selected
Mary Oliver Spring

SUMMER

Anon. ‘‘Summer is y-comen in’’
Geoffrey Chaucer Roundel
Wallace Stevens The House was Quiet and the World was Calm
Emily Dickinson Further in Summer than the Birds
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey The Sweet Season
Thomas Hardy At the Royal Academy
Henry David Thoreau "Woof of the sun’’
Mary Oliver Summer Poem
Mona Van Duyn End of May
James Schuyler I Think
John Clare Summer Moods
John Keats On the Grasshopper and the Cricket
H.D. Pear Tree
Langston Hughes Summer Night
Phyllis McGinley June in the Suburbs
Howard Nemerov Trees
Amy Clampitt Lindenbloom
H.D. Heat
Walt Whitman A July Afternoon by the Pond
Léonie Adams Midsummer
Anon. Summer Song
Ted Hughes Heatwave
May Swenson Flag of Summer
William Cullen Bryant Summer Wind
Henry David Thoreau The Summer Rain
Alice Meynell The Rainy Summer
Richard Wilbur My Father Paints a Summer
David Wagoner Falling Asleep in a Garden
Amy Lowell Dog-Days
Robert Penn Warren August Moon
Seamus Heaney August Moon
John Hollander Late August on the Lido
Robert Frost Hyla Brook
Christina Rossetti Summer is Ended
Emily Dickinson "As imperceptibly as God"
A.E. Housman "When summer's end is nighing"

AUTUMN

John Keats To Autumn
Emily Dickinson "Summer begins to have the look"
Emily Brontë "Fall, leaves, fall"
Robert Frost Unharvested
Walter de la Mare Autumn
John Clare Autumn
Amy Lowell Autumn
Edna St. Vincent Millay Autumn Chant
Percy Bysshe Shelley Ode to the West Wind
Ted Hughes The Seven Sorrows
Edith Wharton An Autumn Sunset
Alexander Puskin Autumn
Louise Bogan Simple Autumnal
Jean Garrigue The Flux of Autumn
William Stanley Braithwaite ‘‘Turn me to my yellow leaves’’
Jones Very The Latter Rain
William Blake To Autumn
Amy Lowell Hoar-Frost
Mary Tighe Written in Autumn
Henry David Thoreau The Fall of the Leaf
Wallace Stevens Autumn Refrain
Howard Nemerov The Dying Garden
Anthony Hecht An Autumnal
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Aftermath
W.S. Merwin The Love for October
Ted Hughes October Dawn
Helen Hunt Jackson October
Thomas Hardy Last Week in October
Marie Ponsot End of October
Robert Penn Warren Heart of Autumn
Thomas Hood No!
William Dean Howells November
Phyllis McGinley November
Adelaide Crapsey November Night
A.R. Ammons Late November
Thomas Hardy During Wind and Rain
Richard Wilbur Crow’s Nests
Garard Manley Hopkins Spring and Fall
John Hollander An Old-Fashioned Song
William Shakespeare ‘‘That time of year thou mayst in me behold’’
E.E. Cummings [l(a]

WINTER

William Shakespeare Winter
Thomas Sackville, Earl of Dorset Winter
Emily Dickinson "It sifts from Leaden Sieves"
Henry David Thoreau "Pray to what earth does this sweet cold belong"
Anne Bradstreet Winter
A.E. Housman "The night is freezing fast"
John Clare Winter Walk
James Russell Lowell The First Snow-Fall
James Merrill From a Notebook
Ralph Waldo Emerson The Snow-Storm
Gjertrud Schnackenberg The Paperweight
John Greenleaf Whittier From Snow-Bound 208
Donald Hall The Snow
William Shenstone Lines Written on a Window at the Leasowes at a Time of Very Deep Snow
Elinor Wylie Silver Filigree
W.S. Merwin To a Leaf Falling in Winter
Amy Clampitt Runes, Blurs, Sap Rising
Anthony Hecht Crows in Winter
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Snow-Flakes
Robert Frost Afterflakes
Wallace Stevens The Snow Man
Thomas Campion "Now winter nights enlarge"
Angelina Weld Grimké A Winter Twilight
Kay Ryan Winter Fear
Anthony Hecht Sestina d’Inverno
A.R. Ammons Winter Scene
Emily Dickinson "There’s a certain Slant of light"
Richard Wilbur Year’ End
Ted Hughes Snow and Snow
Emily Brontë "The night is darkening round me"
Robert Frost "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"
Karl Shapiro California Winter
William Carlos Williams Winter
Emily Dickinson "The Sky is low –the Clouds are mean"
Richard Wilbur Orchard Trees, January
Edward Thomas February Afternoon
James Schuyler February 13, 1975



Index of Authors


Acknowledgment
J.D. McClatchy

About J.D. McClatchy

J.D. McClatchy - The Four Seasons

Photo © Stone Roberts

J. D. McClatchy is the author of seven previous collections of poetry and of three collections of prose. He has edited numerous other books, including The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry, and has written a number of opera libretti that have been performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, La Scala, and elsewhere. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, where he served as president from 2009 to 2012. McClatchy teaches at Yale University and is editor of The Yale Review.


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