A Poetic Day in June


Some of my favorite lines of poetry are these, which always come to my mind some­time dur­ing this early-summer month — usu­ally on a gor­geous, blue-sky, bright-and-sunny, perfect-temperature day like today:

And what is so rare as a day in June? / Then, if ever, come per­fect days…” My high school lit­er­a­ture teacher, Ken Tan­gen, gave us extra credit for mem­o­riz­ing this sec­tion of the pro­found poem, and I’ve never com­pletely for­got­ten it. You really need the entire pre­ced­ing stanza — indeed prob­a­bly the whole, lengthy poem, called “The Vision of Sir Laun­fal” — to fully appre­ci­ate its mean­ing, which goes beyond the delights of sum­mer to the free gift of sal­va­tion. But for now, I’ll stick with this pas­sage and revel in this beau­ti­ful June day:


‘Tis heaven alone that is given away,
’Tis only God may be had for the ask­ing;
There is no price set on the lav­ish sum­mer,
And June may be had by the poor­est comer.

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:
Whether we look, or whether we lis­ten,
We hear life mur­mur, or see it glisten


–James Rus­sell Low­ell (19th cen­tury poet)

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