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Have you noticed that at the end of August, Emily Dickinson is always right? At this moment--"Antiquest felt at soon, when August burning low"-- we truly are further in summer than the birds, for the summer songbirds have already fled. We no longer hear the rose-breasted grosbeaks at our feeder or the hermit thrushes and veeries at the edge of the woods in the evenings, but still we are in summer. Instead, if our surroundings are silent enough, we can hear that "minor nation" of cicadas that Emily noticed, celebrating its "unobtrusive mass." Every year, when August is burning low, that splendid poem comes back to me, and I marvel at how perfect it is, and how true it is to nature's rhythms, even a century and a half later! There are other perfect poems-- sonnets of Shakespeare, perhaps; the great odes of Keats, perhaps. You will have your own favorites. But there are few that I would trade for this beloved poem that comes to me like a blessing, a Druidic difference in the last days of August every year.

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

Enlarging Loneliness.

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

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