Sing again, Cicada,
Golden tones of languid summer:
Heatwave, daydream, home.
I hear in you the afternoon,
Tyrant sun and welcome shade,
Hours spent in swimming pools,
And nursing sunburns afterward.
Others ignore a droning bug,
Deaf to such a common voice,
But I have heard your melodies
And deemed them more than idle noise.
Your trembling tymbals bombilate,
Filled with life’s electric power.
Charged like tungsten caged in glass,
They pour forth sound, warm and bright:
The porch-light hum of living things,
The sound of breathing, vital stirrings,
Of bodies buzzing, yet hurried
You serenade the memory
With thoughts at once both sweet and sharp,
Like lemonade and whiskey sours:
The piquant glimpses of vanished ages,
Childhood wonders, adolescent pains,
Whispers of untouchable hours.
Your song is sad but not unhappy;
Indulging its nostalgic theme
Awakens joy through melancholy.
For each note provokes the vestige
Of a not-so-ancient flame.
Oh, sentiments that lungs forgot,
That stomach thought digested!
Oh, days that time has washed away
Like fragile castles in the sand:
The days of splendor, days I conquered—
For all are kings in boyhood.
And how your music, when it lulls,
Reminds me of the coming change.
Nature, eldest alchemist,
Shall turn her greens to gold.
And with the leaves’ transfigurement,
Life itself shall be found different.
Nothing is the same, nor can it be again.
Even baseball seasons end.
But let not silence rule the evening.
Come, Cicada, sing again:
Of ripples formed in shallow ponds,
Whirling motion, calm contentment,
Turbulence in still repose.
Or praise perhaps the simple virtues
Of an ice cream cone in mid July.
Soothing though melting, its cool reprieve
Assuages more than passing time.
Chatter on, Italianate,
Complaining of torturous luxuries,
Afflictions tempting, so exquisite,
Of cigarettes in August.
Whatever your song, Cicada, sing!
Vibrate the stagnant atmosphere.
Thicken grass and bough and sultry air
With manifold insect meanings:
A paean to the dog days everlasting;
A murmuring ode remembering dreams;
A lyric of magic antipodes.
Let the winds be vessels for your hymns!
Let Summer and summers here and gone
Be sung up, played, and born again,
Borne up on the zephyr’s wings!
—But now I hear another voice.
Thunder, trumpeting, prophet-like,
Breaks me from these reveries.
The rain arrives to weep off drought
With tears too hard to nurse the land.
I hear no bugs, no buzz, no life,
Only a drowning and taking away.
When autumn storms end summer spells,
Who shall sing the Winter’s praise?