High Summer, by Ebenezer Jones (1820-1860)

A little late for this, I suppose.  “High Summer” I think of as June and July, but, as today looks set fair, here is what I think is some good advice from the poet Ebenezer Jones about how to make the most of what remains to us.

Jones is a fairly obscure figure.  He grew up in Islington, suffered from a strict Calvinist upbringing and published one volume of poems “Studies of Sensation and Event” in 1843, which seems to have been greeted with general derision.  Discouraged, he resorted to working as an accountant, and died of consumption at the age of 40.  He seems to have had Chartist sympathies, and to have been allied to  the Spasmodic school.

Sometime after his death he was rediscovered by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and enjoyed a brief vogue (not that he was in a position to derive much pleasure from it).

He is probably remembered, if at all, for the event recounted in John Betjeman’s poem “An incident in the early Life of Ebenezer Jones, Poet, 1828” (read it here) in which he attempted, vainly, to prevent a Calvinist schoolmaster hurling a lurcher to its death from the top of a flight of stairs.  Brave boy!

A good place to take EJ’s advice is, of course, the cricket (provided you don’t take “nakedly” too literally – this would be frowned on at most county grounds, though you might get away with it at Headingley during a Test Match).


High Summer

I never wholly feel that summer is high,

However green the grass, or loud the birds,

However movelessly eye-winking herds

Stand in field ponds, or under large trees lie,

Till I do climb all cultured pastures by,

That hedged by hedgerows studiously fretted trim,

Smile like a lady’s face with lace laced prim,

And on some moor or hill that seeks the sky

Lonely and nakedly, -utterly lie down,

And feel the sunshine throbbing on body and limb,

My drowsy brain in pleasant drunkenness swim,

Each rising thought sink back, and dreamily drown,

Smiles creep o’er my face, and smother my lips, and cloy,

Each muscle sink to itself, and separately enjoy. 


2 thoughts on “High Summer, by Ebenezer Jones (1820-1860)

  1. Hi Mischa – no, I don’t know that one – I’ll have to look it out. Reminds me that it was a fine day when I wrote this & I went & sat on top of a hill in the sun all afternoon. Seems like a long time ago now.

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