The Beauty Of Summer

 

Claude Monet 

I love summer. As I’ve been marveling on my little patio the almost-overpowering jasmine, the strikingly bright bougainvillea, the gently fragrant gardenias, the all-of-a-sudden reddening tomatoes—oh how exuberant, how explosive, what fullness, what beauty. On my little patio! Suddenly summer is here. I love the long evenings when things cool down for relaxed dinners and longer conversation. I love the colors, the sounds, the cool breeze in the morning. The beauty of summer is restoring. It is joy.

Yesterday I came across lines from the medieval poem “The Loves of Taliesin,” what Esther De Waal calls “one of the greatest works of Welsh literature.” The Celtic people lived so completely, so fully, so present in what was happening around them. They noticed things. Things were never easy for their lives, to be sure, but they write about it so simply. Life slows down. We are given a chance to see things we’ve never seen before, or in seeing them, we are suddenly introduced to something beautiful, something meaningful, something so deeply satisfying. Life is all so breathtakingly beautiful, so full of joy. Summer is full of beauty, the poet says. Just look around: We live in a beautiful world. Just seeing makes a lot of difference.

Here are these magnificent lines:

The beauty of summer, its days long and slow,

Beautiful too visiting the ones we love.

The beauty of flowers on the tops of fruit trees,

Beautiful too covenant with the Creator.

The beauty in the wilderness of doe and fawn,

Beautiful too the foam-mouthed and slender steed.

The beauty of the garden when the leeks grow well,

Beautiful too charlock in bloom. . . .

And, then, with a little side-glance at self-affirmation, the poet declares:

Beautiful too is elegant Welsh.

Maybe my own Welsh, he seems to say, the language I present to you right here, maybe this language I love so much, maybe that too is beautiful. I love that.

The poet continues:

The beauty of the heather when it turns purple,

Beautiful too moorland for cattle,

The beauty of the season when calves suckle,

Beautiful too riding a foam-mouthed horse.

The beauty of the fish in his bright lake,

Beautiful too its surface shimmering. . . .

Isn’t this wonderful? This is a poem of utter praise. It’s a poem of almost-too-much to absorb, with too few words to say it. It’s a poem of no-longer desiring to control. Just look, and let loose into praise. Oh my, all this beauty to behold. It all turns to breathtaking joy. So much to say.

But notice too, and this is so typical of Celtic poetry, the poet naturally slips in the “covenant with the Creator.” It’s seamless. That too is beautiful. God is here simply, physically, and yet magnificently. Esther De Waal talks about the “sheer physicality” of the Celtic tradition: “Here is a powerful sense of the unity of the whole created order, a celebration of creation and redemption, that healing wholeness, the oneness in plurality. . . .” Yes, God is here too in the beauty of summer. Seamlessly.

And so the long evenings, the conversations with the ones we love, the bursting beauty of blossom and growth and shimmering brightness, the fragrance and the delicacy of all those flowers, the dazzling, ever-varied color—oh my, let’s just pause on our summer evenings, and mornings, to take it all in. What a complete view of the world. So beautiful. So full of joy.