Monday, June 20, 2011

Don’t Tell the Children

The summer solstice is a cruel irony. I spent an hour with my aged Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (copyright 1987) after writing that sentence. I love words to the point of obsession sometimes.

Solstice is from the Latin “solstitium,” meaning “sun + to come to a stop.” The summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, the day when the sun stops its day-lengthening climb in the sky, falls officially on June 21. I looked up “irony” as well. The meaning I was after was listed as definition 3 a (1): incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.

The 13-line explanation of “irony” is the longest definition of an “i” word in 16 columns of words between “inversion” (14 lines long, a reversal of position) and the final word, “izzard” (a noun, probably from Middle French, meaning the letter z). I discovered a good new word in there: irrefragable (of Latin origin), meaning “impossible to refute or to break, as in arguments or rules.”

I’m joining the Poetry Jam today, which is why the emphasis is on summer. With the solstice, summer begins, but from this point onward, the hours of daylight begin to recede. For some reason, I feel a tad cheated by that. You’ll find more summery attitudes here.

Children do not know
cruel irony underlies
the summer solstice
like the grass
beneath the sprinkler
through which they run
screaming with joy
in the hot June sun.
Summer’s freedom
has begun, stretching
out as far as they can see
in its eternal
light.
In truth
the solstice
marks the end
of growing light.
From this apex
summer days begin
their inexorable march
to autumn and its equinox
a clandestine waning
of the sun.

12 comments:

Brian Miller said...

getting to the top of the rollercoaster it must once again come rumbling down the hill...enjoy the freedom while you can....and winter waits expectantly

Peter Goulding said...

This is wonderfully irrefragable, Chris. Every midsummers day I inform my wife that the nights are going to start drawing in. I can never understand why she answers with violence.

The Bug said...

LOL at Peter. I just read a blog post by Reya Mellicker today about how the summer solstice is bittersweet. Ever since I've understood it, I've mourned the day a bit. I don't like the dark. Sigh.

Titus said...

Wonderful opening, and then fine transit to a blinding six final lines. Beautifully done, and I loved the tone too.

Helen said...

Content and form ... well done, many adults do not know that cruel irony.

Gabriella Moonlight said...

I am obsessed with words too I have some very old dictionaries that I have written in, and I have one that has been used with hubby to write/circle words with next pages to go to in order to describe each other, love, etc...fun things to do with dictionaries! Great poem and good luck at the Poetry Jam! You'll do amazing,...hugs to you!

Laurie Kolp said...

Oh, I do like this one... a lot! I love the shape.

Margaret said...

I agree that summer solstice is bitter sweet. I love the research you do...makes for a well thought out poem.

Rob-bear said...

Dropped by from Linda's for a quick visit. Interesting bit of "word love" on your part; I appreciate it. The solstice arrives just after noon, tomorrow, in my world. And I will enjoy its arrival, sharing the change in pictures and words.

jabblog said...

It doesn't do to dwell on these things;-)but you have expressed the irony succinctly and beautifully.

the walking man said...

Funny the days begin to shorten by degrees same time as the temperature rises by degrees.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

Beautiful sentence and beautiful poem! I love reading your poetry!

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