Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
A Summer Day
By Alexander Hume (1560?–1609)
O PERFECT 1 Light, which shaid 2 away
  The darkness from the light,
And set a ruler o’er the day,
  Another o’er the night—
Thy glory, when the day forth flies,        5
  More vively 3 doth appear
Than at mid day unto our eyes
  The shining sun is clear.
The shadow of the earth anon
  Removes and drawis by,        10
While in the East, when it is gone,
  Appears a clearer sky.
Which soon perceive the little larks,
  The lapwing and the snipe,
And tune their songs, like Nature’s clerks,        15
  O’er meadow, muir, and stripe. 4
Our hemisphere is polisht clean,
  And lighten’d more and more,
While everything is clearly seen
  Which seemit dim before:        20
Except the glistering astres 5 bright,
  Which all the night were clear,
Offuskit 6 with a greater light
  No longer do appear.
The golden globe incontinent        25
  Sets up his shining head,
And o’er the earth and firmament
  Displays his beams abread
For joy the birds with boulden 7 throats
  Against his visage sheen 8        30
Take up their kindly musick notes
  In woods and gardens green.
The dew upon the tender crops,
  Like pearlis white and round,
Or like to melted silver drops,        35
  Refreshis all the ground.
The misty reek, 9 the clouds of rain,
  From tops of mountains skails, 10
Clear are the highest hills and plain,
  The vapours take the vales.        40
The ample heaven of fabrick sure
  In cleanness does surpass
The crystal and the silver pure,
  Or clearest polisht glass.
The time so tranquil is and still        45
  That nowhere shall ye find.
Save on a high and barren hill,
  An air of peeping wind.
All trees and simples, 11 great and small,
  That balmy leaf do bear,        50
Than they were painted on a wall
  No more they move or steir. 12
Calm is the deep and purple sea,
  Yea, smoother than the sand;
The waves that weltering wont to be        55
  Are stable like the land.
So silent is the cessile 13 air
  That every cry and call
The hills and dales and forest fair
  Again repeats them all.        60
The flourishes 14 and fragrant flowers,
  Through Phœbus’ fostering heat,
Refresht with dew and silver showers
  Cast up an odour sweet.
The cloggit 15 busy humming bees,        65
  That never think to drone,
On flowers and flourishes of trees
  Collect their liquor brown.
The Sun, most like a speedy post
  With ardent course ascends;        70
The beauty of the heavenly host
  Up to our zenith tends.
The burning beams down from his face
  So fervently can beat,
That man and beast now seek a place        75
  To save them from the heat.
The herds beneath some leafy tree
  Amidst the flowers they lie;
The stable ships upon the sea
  Tend up their sails to dry.        80
With gilded eyes and open wings
  The cock his courage shows;
With claps of joy his breast he dings, 16
  And twenty times he crows.
The dove with whistling wings so blue        85
  The winds can fast collect;
Her purple pens turn many a hue
  Against the sun direct.
Now noon is went; gone is midday,
  The heat doth slake at last;        90
The sun descends down West away,
  For three of clock is past.
The rayons of the sun we see
  Diminish in their strength;
The shade of every tower and tree        95
  Extendit is in length.
Great is the calm, for everywhere
  The wind is setting down;
The reek throws right up in the air
  From every tower and town.        100
The gloming comes; the day is spent;
  The sun goes out of sight;
And painted is the occident
  With purple sanguine bright.
Our west horizon circular        105
  From time the sun be set
Is all with rubies, as it were,
  Or roses red o’erfret. 17
What pleasure were to walk and see,
  Endlong a river clear,        110
The perfect form of every tree
  Within the deep appear.
O then it were a seemly thing,
  While all is still and calm,
The praise of God to play and sing        115
  With cornet and with shalm!
All labourers draw home at even,
  And can to other say,
Thanks to the gracious God of heaven,
  Which sent this summer day.        120
Note 1. From Poems of Alexander Hume, Scottish Text Society Publications. Alexander Hume was born at Reidbrais, North Berwick (Scotland), 1556–7, and died in 1609. He belonged to a minor but still important branch of the great clan which, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, possessed the larger portion of the Merse and part of East Lothian. He was the second of seven sons and two daughters born to Patrick and Agnes Hume, his father being the grandson of the first Patrick Hume, the Comptroller of Scotland in 1499. It has been invariably assumed that Hume studied at St. Andrew’s. Circumstances, however, point to his matriculation in 1571 as a student of St. Mary’s. Later he travelled in France, and on his return became attached to the Court of James VI. “Hume’s Summer Day,” says Lawson (Introduction to Poems, 1902), “suggests not only the Prologues of Douglas, but Thomson’s Seasons, and the prose idyll which Richard Jeffries called The Pageant of Summer (The Life of the Fields, pp. 41–64). It is more limited in scope than the Summer of the former, for it treats a day poetically, not formally, and it does not range over the experiences of an entire season. But it shows the same love and the same knowledge…. The earlier poet, because his ambition is more modest, naturally misses much that moved the latter … but he has no inartistic digressions, and he has at every point the same sincerity of feeling…. Hume and Thomson are alike, however, in adding to the single-hearted love of the sights and sounds amid which they were reared, a full recognition of Nature as the expression of divine power and wisdom. This recognition of spirit above and behind Nature is constant and simple, although we know otherwise that the religious creed of the two Borderers differed materially.” [back]
Note 2. Shaid: parted. [back]
Note 3. Vively: vividly. [back]
Note 4. Stripe: rill. [back]
Note 5. Astres: stars. [back]
Note 6. Offuskit: darkened. [back]
Note 7. Boulden: swollen. [back]
Note 8. Sheen: bright. [back]
Note 9. Reek: smoke-vapor. [back]
Note 10. Skails: clears. [back]
Note 11. Simples: herbs. [back]
Note 12. Steir: to stir. [back]
Note 13. Cessile: yielding, ceasing. [back]
Note 14. Flourishes: blossoms. [back]
Note 15. Cloggit: clogged. [back]
Note 16. Ding: to beat. [back]
Note 17. O’erfret: overfretted. [back]

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