“A Dream of Summer” by John Greenleaf Whittier

by Ann Neilson

Although I might normally agree that Whittier’s delightful poem also has me looking forward to the splendid days of summer, I, alas, cannot. Upon moving to the South, I’ve found the Autumn and Winter seasons to be a delight, and the summers to consequently be miserable. Perhaps my dear readers will find greater solace in Whittier’s words—goodness knows he may have needed them himself. Because Whittier was born in Massachusetts, it is without a doubt he endured the bitter, biting, bleak, and blustery New England winters, as is also suggested in this poem—to which I say sit Deus custodiat te and manere calidum, dear Whittier!

A Dream of Summer
John Greenleaf Whittier

4th 1st month, 1847.
BLAND as the morning breath of June
The south-west breezes play;
And, through its haze, the winter noon
Seems warm as summer’s day.
The snow-plumed Angel of the North
Has dropped his icy spear;
Again the mossy earth looks forth,
Again the streams gush clear.

The fox his hillside cell forsakes,
The muskrat leaves his nook,
The bluebird in the meadow brakes
Is singing with the brook.
“Bear up, oh mother Nature!” cry
Bird, breeze, and streamlet free;
“Our winter voices prophesy
Of summer days to thee!”

So, in those winters of the soul,
By bitter blasts and drear
O’erswept from Memory’s frozen pole,
Will sunny days appear.
Reviving Hope and Faith, they show
The soul its living powers,
And how beneath the winter’s snow
Lie germs of summer flowers!

The Night is mother of the Day,
The Winter of the Spring,
And ever upon old Decay
The greenest mosses cling.
Behind the cloud the starlight lurks,
Through showers the sunbeams fall;
For God, who loveth all His works,
Has left His Hope with all!