Treasure Island

Paul Laurence Dunbar

(1872-1906 / Ohio / United States)

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Summer in the South


The Oriole sings in the greening grove
As if he were half-way waiting,
The rosebuds peep from their hoods of green,
Timid, and hesitating.
The rain comes down in a torrent sweep
And the nights smell warm and pinety,
The garden thrives, but the tender shoots
Are yellow-green and tiny.
Then a flash of sun on a waiting hill,
Streams laugh that erst were quiet,
The sky smiles down with a dazzling blue
And the woods run mad with riot.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Carlos Echeverria (3/16/2012 10:43:00 AM)

    A plu-perfect nature poem, which reads like it sprung from Dunbar's pure self, like a natural change of season. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (3/16/2011 10:29:00 AM)

    Everyone has an opinion, I see. We are told how to interpret a poem and how not to interpret one! Let me ask doubting Thomases like young MacKenzie - how does a reader come to an understanding of a poem unless he pays attention to what words mean? For that matter, the relevant question should be HOW DOES A POEM MEAN? Study rime and meter and rhythm in earnest and you might come to comprehend what the poem means, right? Yes, one must infer meaning from the structure of the poem! You cannot ask personal questions of any writer, now can you? How about Shakespeare's plays?

    Incidentally, whatever happened to my earlier comments, as well as those of Mr. Straw? The author some of you might consult is John Ciardi, who translated Dante's DIVINE COMEDY from its original Italian to English and whose book entitled HOW DOES A POEM MEAN has withstood the ravages of time. A word to the wise, eh? (Report) Reply

  • Juan Olivarez (3/16/2011 9:19:00 AM)

    The roses would only be susceptible to the rain at night when the buds and leaves would not have a chance to dry, thus providing and opening for blight and fungus. But who cares, the real tragedy here is that Dunbar was so young at his passing. (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (3/16/2010 9:05:00 AM)

    Summer in the South by Paul Laurence Dunbar is a beautifully crafted poem. ‘The rosebuds peep from their hoods of green, Timid, and hesitating’ is a wonderful line. Dunbar is correct, roses are susceptible to rain and ‘rain comes down in a torrent sweep’ would accurately describe, the damage spring rain does to the first timid buds and blossom back home, when it rains torrents.
    The vernacular word ‘pinety’ cleverly plays upon pint sized in my mind and thus fits ‘The garden thrives, but the tender shoots Are yellow-green and tiny' beautifully. Dunbar exhibits exquisite descriptive choice, in spring a garden does thrive with tender shoots, when an exceptional gardener has a magic touch. Some plants require more sheltered sections of a garden and the choice of ‘but’ reminds of seasonal damage the young shoots suffer in what we termed a bad spring when weather rained havoc. This is really an excellent poem and the poet has carefully chosen exactly the words he wanted to describe his observations of a southern summer. I have often contemplated how much some of the city bound miss, when reading well written nature poems, due to never having been blessed with immersion into the diversity of nature. This poem is a joy of treasured of memories, with deep insight, expressed with accurate simplicity. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (3/16/2010 1:59:00 AM)

    Hilarious natural scene with hill, meadow, stream, Sun and wood painted with pen as poem lingers on in the mind even after reading it! Wonderful way to depict Summer in poem nice! (Report) Reply

  • Indira Renganathan (3/16/2010 1:20:00 AM)

    One more poem on summer and summer rains and the following sunshine...and its smell...except for the word 'pinety' which I don't understand...interesting poem (Report) Reply

  • Identification Accepted (3/16/2009 5:06:00 PM)

    Honestly, I can't explain this poem in 'big words' as some people think. And I'm not going to analyze it because I don't think it should be analyzed. I love this poem because I remember my granny's house in the south and being little running around in the spring. But, if you had to analyze i...did anyone think maybe the man was just simply describing it? Just enjoy the poem and let it take it where it'll take you. No need to taint it with order...and this is a long comment =( (Report) Reply

  • Macklin MacKenzie (3/16/2009 3:51:00 PM)

    Mr. Straw is correct in all counts of his comment. The 'but' should be changed to an 'and' because there is indeed no kind of contrast between the two conjoined lines. And Mr. Pruchnicki, how are you to know to what Mr. Dunbar refers? Did you ask the man? I think not, seeing as he lived before your time. And pinety is indeed a vernacular word, and is in no way more formal than piney. For our less intelligent readers (Mr. Pruchnicki) vernacular describes a word that is used in ones native language or dialect of a word. Just as some say 'warsh' instead of 'wash' or how some say 'Joysey' instead of 'Jersey'. A good analy sis and critique of the poem, Mr. Straw, and Mr. Pruchnicki, do not presume to know what goes on inside of others' heads, you only make yourself look a fool. (Report) Reply

  • Edith Oram (3/16/2008 7:01:00 AM)

    What a lovely poem. I agree with the previous comment on 'pinety', however I bow to to the option for poetic licence. Uplifting especially at the tail end of winter. One of my favourites. (Report) Reply

  • James Atkinson (3/16/2007 6:54:00 PM)

    Summer in the South is lovely and expressive in local vernacular. Anyone animated over word selection I would opine hasn’t traveled far from home. (Report) Reply

  • Precious Boy (8/3/2006 10:44:00 PM)

    It is a very good poem, but in the 6th line 'pinety' probably should be 'piny' or 'piney'. Just for the poet's reference. (Report) Reply

  • Brian Dickenson (3/16/2006 9:08:00 AM)

    I loved the flow and imagery of this. I have no idea how an Oriel sounds, but I just imagine an English Blackbird.
    They are invariably the first up and the last to bed.
    I adore English summers.
    Take care, Brian. (Report) Reply

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