On a recent Saturday, I sat outside reading Michael Ondaatje’s Divisadero. Ondaatje’s mention of John Milton’s Paradise Lost sent me into the house to my bookshelves. Returning outside with an old edition of The Norton Anthology of Poetry, I put Ondaatje aside to read Milton.
In the anthologized material from Milton’s poetry, I enjoyed his imagery and language, and I found this: “The frolic wind that breathes the spring” in “L’Allegro.” If one were to write about spring, Milton’s line would make a nice little epigraph.
It was a hot day, well past spring, and there was not so much as even a frolic breeze. I wondered what line of verse about summer might provide an epigraph for this season and serve to complement “The frolic wind that breathes the spring.” No verse came to mind, although a melody began to insinuate itself in my thinking. George Gershwin’s “Summertime.” Perhaps summer is less a season of poetry than of song. Gershwin’s “Summertime” repeated in my head. It had the sinuous slink of summer.