It is mid-June. In the stair-well
Darkness has papered every wall.
The air is cool. Clothes feel too thin.
The green outside is looking in
Through the opaque leaded pane.
The eclipse of summer comes again.

Beside me stands the black-eyed cat
Whose yellow stare saw winter out.
Now that the leaves have mobbed the light
Her deeper eyes are stripped for night.
In dealings with the longest day
We use the code of January.

The plants upon the window-sill
That looked so solitary and small
On Christmas Eve now seem to be
Outriders of the approaching tree,
Spies of an enemy in the shade,
Bell-wethers of the flocks they lead.

Beyond the front door, light and heat
Fulfil the stroller in the street.
Beyond the streets midsummer lies:
Open fields, straightforward skies.
No reticence in country glass,
A tree could walk right through the house.

Under this elegant town roof
Midsummer darkness is a spoof,
The magic of a trumped-up storm
That gives an out-of-kilter charm
To the precision of the pit
Waiting beneath the oubliette.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences