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let’s discuss: Summer in a Note (or Two or Three…)

July 5, 2012

After a beautiful Fourth of July evening here in Baltimore last night, I am compelled to share the pieces that exude the feeling of summer for me. Unfortunately, our summer seems to be flying by. Let’s just take a moment to bask in the glorious summer moments captured in these works. Please feel free to also link to your can’t-be-summer-without-this pieces in the comments.

Ain’t it a pretty night?
The sky’s so dark and velvet-like
And it’s all lit up with stars.
It’s like a great big mirror
Refleain’ fire-flies over a pond.
Look at all them stars, Little Bat.
The longer y’ look the more y” see.
The sky seems so heavy with stars
That it might fall right down out of heaven
And cover us all up in one big blanket
Of velvet stitched with diamon’s.
Ain’t it a pretty night.

Just think, those stars can all peep down
An’ see way beyond where we can:
They can see way beyond them mountains
To Nashville and Asheville an’ Knoxville.
I wonder what it’s like out there.
Out there- beyond them mountains
Where the folks talk nice, an’ the folks dress nice
Like y’ see in the mail-order catalogs.
I aim to leave this valley some day
An’ find out fer myself:

To see all the tall buildin’s
And all the street lights
An’ to be one o’ them folks myself.
I wonder if I’d get lonesome fer the valley though,
Fer the sound of crickets
An’ the smell of pine straw
Fer soft little rabbits an’ bloomin’ things
An’ the mountains turnin gold in the fall.

But I could always come back
If I got homesick fer the valley.
So I’ll leave it someday an’ see fer myself.
Someday I’ll leave an’ then I’ll come back
When I’ve seen what’s beyond them mountains.

Ain’t it a pretty night.
The sky’s so heavy with stars tonight
That it could fall right down out of heaven
An’ cover us up, and cover us up.
In one big blanket of velvet and diamon’s.

Knoxville: Summer of 1915
A Prose Poem by James Agee

It has become the time of evening
when people sit on their porches,
rocking gently and talking gently
and watching the street
and the standing up
into their sphere of possession of the trees,
of birds’ hung havens, hangers.
People go by; things go by.
A horse, drawing a buggy, breaking his hollow iron music on the asphalt;
a loud auto; a quiet auto;
people in pairs, not in a hurry,
scuffling, switching their weight of aestival body, talking casually,
the taste hovering over them of vanilla, strawberry, pasteboard and starched milk,
the image upon them of lovers and horsemen, squared with clowns in hueless amber.

A streetcar raising its iron moan:
stopping, belling and starting; stertorous; rousing and raising again its iron increasing moan
and swimming its gold windows and straw seats on past and past and past,
the bleak spark crackling and cursing above it like a small malignant spirit set to dog its tracks;
the iron whine rises on rising speed;
still risen, faints; halts; the faint stinging bell;
rises again, still fainter, fainter, lifting, lifts, faints forgone: forgotten.
Now is the night one blue dew.
Now is the night one blue dew,
my father has drained,
now he has coiled the hose.
Low on the length of lawns,
a frailing of fire who breathes …
Parents on porches: rock and rock.
From damp strings morning glories hang their ancient faces.
The dry and exalted noise of the locusts from all the air at once enchants my eardrums.
On the rough wet grass of the backyard my father and mother have spread quilts.
We all lie there, my mother, my father, my uncle, my aunt, and I too am lying there …
They are not talking much, and the talk is quiet,
of nothing in particular, of nothing at all in particular, of nothing at all.
The stars are wide and alive, they seem each like a smile of great sweetness, and they seem very near.

All my people are larger bodies than mine, …
with voices gentle and meaningless like the voice of sleeping birds.
One is an artist, he is living at home.
One is a musician, she is living at home.
One is my mother who is good to me.
One is my father who is good to me.
By some chance, here they are, all on this earth;
and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth,
lying, on quilts, on the grass, in a summer evening, among the sounds of the night.
May God bless my people, my uncle, my aunt, my mother, my good father,
oh, remember them kindly in their time of trouble;
and in the hour of their taking away.

After a little I am taken in and put to bed.
Sleep, soft smiling, draws me unto her:
and those receive me, who quietly treat me,
as one familiar and well-beloved in that home:
but will not, no ,will not, not now, not ever;
but will not ever tell me who I am.

And, how could I leave this one out?

Summertime,
And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high

Your daddy’s rich
And your mamma’s good lookin’
So hush little baby
Don’t you cry

One of these mornings
You’re going to rise up singing
Then you’ll spread your wings
And you’ll take to the sky

But till that morning
There’s a’nothing can harm you
With daddy and mamma standing by

Summertime,
And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high

Your daddy’s rich
And your mamma’s good lookin’
So hush little baby
Don’t you cry

Don’t be shy – tell me your favorites too. Of course, my Patriotism in Recital pieces are equally indicative of this wonderful time of year.

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