Heat

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.

Source: The Broadview Anthology of Poetry, 2nd ed. (Broadview Press, 2009).