By RICHARD WILBUR (American. 1921 – )

A smoky rain riddles the ocean plains,
Rings on the beaches’ stones, stomps in the swales,
Batters the panes
Of the shore hotel, and the hoped-for summer chills and fails.
The summer people sigh,
“Is this July?”

They talk by the lobby fire but no one hears
For the thrum of rain. In the dim and sounding halls,
Din at the ears,
Dark at the eyes well in the head, and the ping-pong balls
Scatter their hollow knocks
Like crazy clocks.

But up in his room by artificial light
My father paints the summer, and his brush
Tricks into sight
The prosperous sleep, the girdling stir and clear steep hush
Of a summer never seen,
A granted green.

Summer, luxuriant Sahara, the orchard spray
Gales in the Eden trees, the knight again
Can cast away
His burning mail, Rome is at Anzio: but the rain
For the ping-pong’s optative bop
Will never stop.

Caught Summer is always an imagined time.
Time gave it, yes, but time out of any mind.
There must be prime
In the heart to beget that season, to reach past rain and find
Riding the palest days
Its perfect blaze.

L’Ete’ (The Summer) by Claude Monet. 1874. Alte Nationalgalerie. Berlin, Germany.

For a high-resolution view of this painting check out Google Art Project here.

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