Cricket song in the summer, particularly at night, is one of the wonders and pleasures of the season. Their sweet tinny chorus rises and falls resonantly, is the soundtrack for a host of happy outdoor activities this time of year, and often lulls us to sleep at night. Sometimes one cricket soul is permitted a lonely solo in the deep late night and its ring and rasp seems to contain something ineffable yet significant about life on this green planet.
The great 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson was quite a fan and patron of all of nature’s performers, finned, furred, scaled … just everything that walks, creeps and crawls, including insects. In the following poem she captures the haunting sacred music she perceived in deep summer when the cricket contingent is at its most populous and in full throat. So moving and resonant did she find their music that she chose carefully and deliberately sacred, liturgical figurative language for the poem in order to render the impression it made on her one summer night long ago in Amherst, Mass.
It’s one of my favorite Dickinson poems and tonight my woods are absolutely resplendent with symphonic cricket exaltation celebrating their joie de vivre. I must say that I, like Dickinson, feel transported by their heartfelt performance and sense in it too something of a sacred sacramental orison praising the creation and its maker.
Happy summer, everyone. Goodnight, sleep tight.
FURTHER IN THE SUMMER THAN THE BIRDS
Further in Summer than the Birds
Pathetic from the Grass
A minor Nation celebrates
Its unobtrusive Mass.
No Ordinance be seen
So gradual the Grace
A pensive Custom it becomes
Antiquest felt at Noon
When August burning low
Arise this spectral Canticle
Repose to typify
Remit as yet no Grace
No Furrow on the Glow
Yet a Druidic Difference
Enhances Nature now
Zen koan “The sound of one hand clapping” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C5%8Dan
“A Valentine for Emily Dickinson” http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/3714087-a-valentine-for-emily-dickinson
[FYI–In Dickinson’s time, in the popular “guides” to nature, crickets and insects were referred to as among nature’s “minor nations.”]