Posted by: John Looker | 22 June, 2013

O those summer days ….


O those summer days …


not these summer days of here and now
when we wonder how we’ll occupy the kids
or find the wherewithal …

no, those summer days gone by
that linger in the memory,
made golden by some alchemy …

those summer days when clothes
were minimal, when music came rippling
over a motionless sea and we sipped bubbles
from glasses brimming with sunlight …

where did they go, those summer days,
oh why could they not stay longer?


© John Stevens 2013

(Family members have seen a slightly different earlier draft on family-only Facebook)

summer days


  1. Hi John, where did they go! I totally agree, it is Autumn like now here. Those wonderful magical Summer days…


  2. Oh I love this.

    And I dont think we look back with those ever rose tinted lenses; the climate is on the move I think.

    I felt “those summer days” in your poem though 🙂


    • Thank you for that! The poem grew out of a sort of online family game.


  3. This is a nice little summer poem—summery too—and summary?—yes, of a certain experience, of time passing, of nostalgia—was summer really like that? It does seem so to me. I’m going to get out my old Nat King Cole albums and play ‘Those lazy hazy crazy days of summer’. (To really nit-pick: would ‘O’ have been a better choice than ‘Oh’?)


    • Oh yes, I think you are right Jim about ‘O’. I’ve changed it. Thank you O Mentor!


  4. Back in those days when hot –though it was even hotter than now– didn’t seem so unbearable. I remember when ‘heat waves’ were over 100F for several days, but I still had some energy. Something has happened to me; our summers lately have been cooler, but when it gets up to 85F I’m wiped out. 🙂


  5. How I recognise these thoughts! “Something has happened” to us all …


  6. Once again I am fascinated by the shifting rhythms of your poem. This includes the management of the length of the line and the length of the stanza, and also, within the line, the rhythms of each semantic segment. While you abjure (perhaps too strong a word) the regularity of traditional meters, you feast on associations of feeling that became conventional through them.
    NOT these SUMmer DAYS of HERE and NOW
    WHEN we WONder HOW we’ll OCcuPY the KIDS
    or FIND the WHEREwithAL

    The iambic beat ties the opening to the dramatic spoken voice that proved so popular in the first several centuries of English verse.

    Then you shift to the sound of a traditional song:

    NO, those SUMmer DAYS GONE BY
    that LINger in the MEMorY
    made GOLDen BY some ALchemY

    your nice run-ons here increase the lyric flow.

    In the third stanza, there are cross-currents of rhythms and a kind of breathlessness that we associate with the pull of nostalgia. The final image of “bubbles” stretched between the lines is very effective and even the ellipses is “imitative” — those wee dots are the bubbles bursting . . .

    Now, a two-line wrap up (like a sonnet, or “little sound”): Finally the “ubi sunt” theme in so many words: “where DID they GO, those SUMmer DAYS . . . ” Which the final line runs counterpoint to:

    OH WHY could they NOT STAY LONGer?

    I love the spondaic outcry and the “feminine ending” that is just one more bubble bursting.

    Splendid! Everything accomplished with great finesse and mastery of a range of means. If each configuration were not spot on in its “imitative” insights, this would be a mess! I suppose all art worth calling art risks disaster just as this poem does.


  7. It’s most kind of you to give this poem that careful attention, Tom – and appreciation. Thank you. Some of the points you remark on were indeed in my mind when writing it: specifically the shape of the stanzas, the length of each line, the enjambment and those dots; also, I wanted the poem to sound like normal speech but with an undertow of traditional metre. But the treatment of each line was not so conscious: more a case of try and try again until it felt right. I am enormously pleased that it appears to have achieved take-off and not crashed in the sea. Thank you again.


  8. Hello John, this poem definitely lingers in my mind, provoking the alchemy of youth, those carefree summers and those long years (which I am now in) of the “here and now”, finding the wherewithal. I really like your casual voice in this one. And the lack of capitals makes it seemed whispered, merely wondered, perhaps not spoken aloud at all, but read by and felt by the heart. Loved it!


    • Ah, thanks Anna … yes, this one may be whispered I think …


  9. What a delightful piece of wistful reflection which will surely resonate with all of us above a certain age.

    I think it was Oscar Wilde who said that “Youth was wasted on the young”
    Certainly we can never recapture those carefree days when we were going to live for ever.

    Loved this John



    • That clever Oscar Wilde. My wife and I once saw his grave in Paris (a bit of a shrine) and also stayed in the room he occupied in a hotel in Nova Scotia (strange furnishings).


  10. Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan?


  11. Tout a fait !


  12. I loved your disappeared reply a whole lot better!


  13. I often wonder the same thing John.
    Wonderful poem


  14. Wistful and wondrous, the sort of touch as when a finger traces over the forehead in remembrance.


  15. I could wrap myself up in the nostalgia of this one 🙂 lovely piece, John


  16. That’s a lovely message – thank you.


  17. I have been reading your “seasons” poems. As usual, sound and sense, meter and meaning, are beautifully matched in each of them. I can’t choose a favorite because they run a gamut feast of moods, excellently evoked. I do adore “Meantime”, and wonder how long it took you to draw your gorgeously spoken and rendered “Harvest Moon”. (I once did a poem in the shape of a broken heart…using an old typewriter..) Why do “Secret Commands”–and “Artful Dodger”– send my mind fast forward to “See How They Run”? Those two lovely bird poems remind me of a time when I lived in Hull, Massachusetts and, returning to that peninsula on a typically windy day, was always stopped in wonderment at the hundreds of seagulls standing row upon row in a parking lot, faces (?) into the wind. This was a most enjoyable read, John.


  18. I don’t know Massachusetts but those gulls sound like close cousins of ours. I’m no naturalist, but the seasons do seems to be a constant source of interest to me – must be living in England (the old one that is) that does it. I’m very pleased you found the poems of interest too. Thanks Cynthia.


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