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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Old Poems for a New Season

The lake at Furman University.  Photos by Robyn Hood Black. 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Summer officially starts next week. Here in upstate SC, we've had a record cool June.


We've also had some haze from those Canada fires last weekend, believe it or not, though nothing like you poor folks in the Northeast have had to deal with (and Midwest now?).  Last weekend, after a front passed through and the wind changed direction, the air was clear and beautiful.  One great thing about living near Greenville is that we are only about 8 miles north of our alma mater, Furman University.  It has a gorgeous campus and a lake that we walked/ran around 40 years ago and enjoy walking around now.  On Sunday, I snapped the above photo after that front moved through.


On South Carolina Public Radio, we have a feature I've always loved - "Nature Notes" with Rudy Mancke.  It's a minute-long segment sprinkled throughout each  weekday's programming, often featuring a question from a listener about some kind of creature discovered in a back yard or under a rock or such.  But often Mr. Mancke will share a classic poem about the natural world, as he did this week, and I thought the verses went well with the fulsome green glory of summer.


From his June 13 post:


this excerpt from a poem by James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)


And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays:


[You can see more here.]


and these words by English author Mary Russell Mitford (1787-55)


What a glowing, glorious day -

Summer in its richest prime,

Noon is in its most sparkling brightness,

Little white clouds dappling the deep blue sky.

And the sun, now partially veiled and bursting through with an intensity of light.


[I am not sure if this was originally written as prose or poetry; apologies if my formatting is all wrong!]


Finally, on a walk around Furman's lake again Thursday afternoon before storms came through, I came upon a plaque I'd never investigated before.  It bears a poem by Frank Burt Morgan Jr., and I can't really tell you who he was.  I did look online and found information on findagrave.com about a Frank Burt Morgan (1887-47) who lived in these parts, graduated from Wofford, and was in banking and business for many years.  


Nature's Shrine


Have you not wandered in the wood

To some secluded spot and stood

Surrounded by sublime beauty,

And all forgetful of your duty,

Contented thus for hours to stand

And admire works of God's great hand

In a veritable flower garden where

You drank the perfume of the air,

Sweet music's temples were resound

Strains, melodious and profound

Harmonious about you heard

The gurgling brook and singing bird?


Ah yes, there is a brighter shrine,

A place where all is bright sunshine,

A grander calmer of our hours,

A world with birds and scented flowers,

A place of music where each day

Soothes us in our angrier way;

Here lies a royal painted throne

Where each is monarch of his own,

And under his supreme survey

The rounded world pursues its way.


Frank Burt Morgan, Jr. 




Here's to a summer full of hours surrounded by sublime beauty!  I will mention that though I hadn't planned to stop on my walk (it's almost a two-mile jaunt around the lake), I was drawn like a magnet to a bench in front of a wee pond just off the path.  I was glad I sat there for a short bit, because I got an unexpected chuckle.  Late yesterday, daughter Morgan had sent me a video of one-year-old Sawyer carrying on from his playpen because she had dared to leave his sight to fix his dinner. While sitting on the bench, I was drawn to a dramatic little raucus on a patch of grass across the pond.  A young crow was harrassing a parent with incessant cawing and hopping about, my guess is for a snack?  The parent continued pecking around on the ground and "ignoring" the youngster.  The smaller bird hopped off into the cool undergrowth for a moment.  Then it came back out and pulled the same routine with (I'm guessing) the other parent - or at least another grown-up crow. With no satisfaction there either, it finally quieted down and then hopped into the edge of the pond for a quick splash.


Hop yourself on over to Michelle Kogan's colorful corner of the web, a place most welcoming to birds and flowers, and enjoy this week's Roundup!

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