From plains that reel to southward, dim,
The road runs by me white and bare;
Up the steep hill it seems to swim
Beyond, and melt into the glare.
Upward half-way, or it may be
Nearer the summit, slowly steals
A hay-cart, moving dustily
With idly clacking wheels.
By his cart’s side the wagoner
Is slouching slowly at his ease,
Half-hidden in the windless blur
Of white dust puffing to his knees.
This wagon on the height above,
From sky to sky on either hand,
Is the sole thing that seems to move
In all the heat-held land.
Beyond me in the fields the sun
Soaks in the grass and hath his will;
I count the marguerites one by one;
Even the buttercups are still.
On the brook yonder not a breath
Disturbs the spider or the midge.
The water-bugs draw close beneath
The cool gloom of the bridge.
Where the far elm-tree shadows flood
Dark patches in the burning grass,
The cows, each with her peaceful cud,
Lie waiting for the heat to pass.
From somewhere on the slope near by
Into the pale depth of the noon
A wandering thrush slides leisurely
His thin revolving tune.
In intervals of dreams I hear
The cricket from the droughty ground;
The grasshoppers spin into mine ear
A small innumerable sound.
I lift mine eyes sometimes to gaze:
The burning sky-line blinds my sight:
The woods far off are blue with haze:
The hills are drenched in light.
And yet to me not this or that
Is always sharp or always sweet;
In the sloped shadow of my hat
I lean at rest, and drain the heat;
Nay more, I think some blessèd power
Hath brought me wandering idly here:
In the full furnace of this hour
My thoughts grow keen and clear.
Throughout Heat, Lampman describes the effect of extreme heat on nature, including people. Lampman says the sun hath his will, showing how nature cannot be controlled by man. He also implies that nature can control his feelings, In the full furnace of this hour / My thoughts grow keen and clear.
Just like Lampman, Denny Bradbury is also inspired by nature. She also looks at nature controlling human emotions. In a poem from her recent collection, inspired by sitting and watching field of horses and noticing how the natural and animal world reacts and adjusts to extreme heat, she says shadows are drawing me in / to twilight rest. For Denny, the end of the sunlight, the natural end to the day, makes her tired.
Butterflies mate on the wing in clusters
Bumblebees bumble into wild mallow
heady with the heat
horses run to escape the fly
in quick retreat
garden swing swinging cushion soft
bird on the wing winging aloft
sun dips slowly west
shadows are drawing me into twilight rest
cool haven of night sky offering calm
respite from this hottest of summers
stars appearing to overcome
the brilliant light of day shine in their
navy blue dome
Like Lampman, Bradbury focuses on the effects the heat has on animals, Butterflies mate on the wing in clusters / Bumblebees bumble into wild mallow / heady with the heat / horses run to escape the fly / in quick retreat. These animals react to the heat, with one animal’s action having a knock on effect to others.
Whereas Bradbury portrays a picture of constant movement, Lampman’s Heat describes a scene almost frozen in time. Even the buttercups are still. / On the brook yonder not a breath / Disturbs the spider or the midge. / The water-bugs draw close beneath / The cool gloom of the bridge.