Summer dreams

Poetry Breakfast ~ at home


Summer Dreams take me to Berneray these days, where we have our lovely cottage on the sea’s edge. Hopefully, we might be getting there before too long. For now though, I will enjoy these gorgeous poems, and hope that you do, too.  The music that has been in my head since first coming up with this theme has been Olivia Newton John and John Travolta’s ‘Summer Nights’ from Grease (the line summer dreams is in the last few seconds of the song!) – you might want to listen – for fun? But maybe not at the same time as reading poetry! For that, I hope you like the choice below.

Thank you, as ever, for sending poems to share. We have just three more breakfasts together before the summer break, so do send any suggestions on the themes of Journeying (needed by midday July 20th, latest) and/or Tonight the Summer’s Over (needed by midday July 27th, latest). I’m looking forward to hearing from you!


I used to listen to this a lot when I was in the bookshop – click here or on the image, then the PLAY button, to listen.

One thing leads to another – and this poem by Tony Hoagland – Jet – seems to tie in to the John Travolta clip above.  I love these lines, from the last stanza:

We gaze into the night
as if remembering the bright unbroken planet
we once came from,
to which we will never
be permitted to return.
We are amazed how hurt we are.
We would give anything for what we have.

The last line seems to startle …

Anna Dreda

Poetry Breakfast, Wenlock Books Events

We can always rely on Steve to come up with something totally off the wall!  Hope you enjoy this zany film poem. Thanks Steve, as always!


(and that’s the last of the Grease references, enough already!)

Steve Harrison

Poet-at-Home, Poetry Breakfast, Much Wenlock

The hindrance of a DJ by Steve Harrison


Dancing shoes prepped
touched up with white gloss paint
[why not]
to hide the scuffs and bruises
and glow in the UV light.
Mirror practised moves awaiting first beat of DJ’s choice

Dancing partner spots me
winks returned
hand mimes open-fingered approval
for blousy valerians
spring-floored chance
regardless of the DJ choice of dance.

Criss Crossing the floor
synchronised looms
in tie dyed loons.
A pair of road runners and five minutes in
trousers squeeze, the lungs wheeze.
Paint begins to crack and peel from sad shoes
and leave a fluorescent
Hansel and Gretel trail across the 1930’s floorboards
in the Disco Dark

First and Last Dance rock n rolled into one
Jarred Silent Movie dancers slow to blurred
By the DJ’s hindrance of his opening song.
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 8-minute Free bird.

Ali reminds us of the lines in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V scene 1:

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this (and all is mended),
That you have but slumber’d here,
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,

And also says, she hopes we like this tiny poem!

Summer Grasses  by Matsuo Basho  (1644-1694)  translated by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto

summer grasses —

all that remains

of warriors’ dreams

from The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness and Joy (2017) ed John Brehm published  Wisdom Publications (Ali bought it from the Poetry Pharmacy!)

Also, Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind mentions ‘summer dreams’ in part 111, (but I think we might keep the whole poem back for Tonight the Summer’s Over in a couple of weeks!) and lastly, Ali points out that Keats’ Hyperion (Book 1 lines 72-5) has the lines

As when, upon a tranced summer-night,
Those green-rob’d senators of mighty woods,
Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars,
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir.


Ali Redgrave

Poetry Breakfast, Aardvark Books

The Life of Robert Frost

The place at which I keep my bookmark
in my condensed edition of the life
is the last page of the early years
in which the forty-year old poet,

not long before the journey back
to New England, grows dejected
and wonders if he’s lost the gift,
if gift indeed he ever had.

He can’t foresee the summer’s night
in Vermont, seven years on
in 1922, when he’ll work
through the small hours till dawn,

stop for awhile to marvel at
himself and the first light, return
to the table and begin to write
the first words of a perfect poem.

As I switch from the page of doubt
to the page of triumph, back and forth,
like some child with a holographic toy,
I seem compelled to hold the poet

in England, full of doubt, and tilt him
forward to that summer’s night
just long enough for me to glimpse
the way a future shimmers there.



Tom Duddy from The Small Hours (Happenstance Press 2006)

This is a poem and (two) poets that I really love and I suppose every poet’s summer dream is to write that perfect poem…

Gill McEvoy


Thank you to Happenstance Press for permission to include this lovely poem.

At the Seaside Poetry Convention


What began as fun –
messing about in sand,
poets regressing to a childhood
of ice-cream, bucket and spade
where clearly they most happily belonged –

soon became a Competition,
a chance to show off, to organise.
Two main categories were established:
“traditional” – castle or moated grange,
cockleshell corners squared off with rhyme;
and “free form” –
most being portraits of themselves
pebble-eyed, lovingly patted firm.
Some showed a fondness for the surreal –
bearded mermaid smoking a pipe –
or symbolism – croc swallowing its own tail.
In any case, all agreed
the trick to keeping artwork sharp
was buckets of sea water, saliva fresh.

In the evening as the sun went down
like Chad’s blood-dripping nose in the west
committees were formed of regional friends
who went round applauding each others’ work,
awarding ribbons of bladder wrack.

In the morning when the poets awoke
from dreams of tearing out each others’ throats
it was all gone – rollered flat
by the garrulous sea, its lines of syntax;
the beach, unspeakable points of light
on fire in the sun, a fresh page.

by Keith Chandler


Carol has chosen a poem by Keith Chandler, whch definitely takes a different kind of look at summer dreams!

Carol Caffrey

Actor, poet, writer

Two lovely poems from Hilary Tilley, Poetry Breakfast, Much Wenlock

High Summer, by Ebenezer Jones (1820-1860)

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.

Summer Dawn by William Morris

Pray but one prayer for me ‘twixt thy closed lips,
Think but one thought of me up in the stars.
The summer night waneth, the morning light slips,
Faint and grey ‘twixt the leaves of the aspen, betwixt the cloud-bars
That are patiently waiting there for the dawn:
Patient and colourless, though Heaven’s gold
Waits to float through them along with the sun.
Far out in the meadows, above the young corn,
The heavy elms wait, and restless and cold
The uneasy wind rises; the roses are dun;
Through the long twilight they pray for the dawn,
Round the lone house in the midst of the corn,
Speak but one word to me over the corn,
Over the tender, bow’d locks of the corn.

Jackie Kay had largely passed me by till one of my daughters bought me the anthology ‘Darling’ in 2007. I read it knowing none of the facts about her life that I know now, which might have influenced my interpretation. I met this poem, so obviously addressed to someone else, as if it were to me. I had not galloped horses as a girl, my experience being only that of an hour or two of gentle, uncertain, holiday trekking. I was happier riding the wooden horses of the fairground carousel or the white horses of the waves. But the deep vitality of these words somehow reached back to the shy girl I was and connected her to my present, not with regret but with optimism for today’s dreams.’

Maureen Cooper

Readers Retreat

Dream Pier by Jackie Kay


Dream of me riding the horse you galloped as a girl –
the one that rode on to the ferry

just as the floor was rising up, in the days when
horses rode the wild sea.

Dream of us swimming in the crazy sea,
our wet hair dark as seals

just as they rise up from the salt water
sleek, slippery, clever.

Dream of you, dream of me, and the old country,
strolling in the heather.

Dream of the years falling off, and the rainy weather,
Then dream of us as girls,

Bold girls who become black horses who bolt
The stable one dark night.

Dream Pier was originally published in Life Mask in 2005 by Bloodaxe, but Maureen has it in Darling: New & Selected Poems, (Bloodaxe)




Thank you so much to Jackie Kay and Neil Astley for kind permission to include this poem.

From Pauline Prior-Pitt

Thank you to Pauline for choosing these two poems. I love them both, but Gillian’s is new to me and breath-taking: thank you so much Gillian, not only for permission to include it, but also for typing it out for me!

Women’s Work


Their books come with me, women writers,
their verses borne through the rooms
out between the plum trees and the field,
as an animal will gather things,
a brush, a bone, a shoe,
for comfort against darkness.

August Sunday morning,
and I’m casting for words,
wandering the garden sipping their poems,
leaving cups of them here and there in the grass
where the washing steams in the silence
after the hay-days and the birdsong months.

I am sixteen again, and it’s summer,
and the sisters are singing, their habits gathered,
sleeves rolled for kitchen work,
rosy hands hoisting cauldrons of greens.
The laundry hisses with steam irons
glossing the collars of our summer blouses.

Then quietly they go along white gravel,
telling their beads in the walled garden
where Albertine’s heady rosaries spill
religious and erotic over the hot stones.
And there’s restlessness in the summer air,
like this desire for poems,

our daily offices.


from Five Fields by Gillian Clarke, published by Carcanet.

The Way through the Woods (1910) by Rudyard Kipling


They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.

It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods…
But there is no road through the woods.


This poem is in the public domain.

Couldn’t resist sending you a couple of my favourite poems from the top of my head, which might fit into Summer Dreams . . . This first is by Seamus Heaney and the second by Jane Kenyon (it’s actually in Treelines!)

Mossbawn: Two Poems in Dedication by Seamus Heaney  For Mary Heaney, from North, 1975


Coming Home at Twilight in Late Summer by Jane Kenyon from Collected Poems. © Graywolf Press, 2005.


Janie Hextall

Co-founder & editor, Lautus Press

Treelines - a collection of poems

Trees are all around us, taken for granted, marking the seasons, and forming the backdrop to our daily lives.  Who hasn’t got a favourite tree? Who hasn’t planted a tree? Climbed a tree? Sat in the shade of a tree? Who hasn’t walked happily through a wood?

The wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Summer Night, Riverside

Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)

In the wild soft summer darkness
How many and many a night we two together
Sat in the park and watched the Hudson
Wearing her lights like golden spangles
Glinting on black satin.
The rail along the curving pathway
Was low in a happy place to let us cross,
And down the hill a tree that dripped with bloom
Sheltered us
While your kisses and the flowers,
Falling, falling,
Tangled my hair….

The frail white stars moved slowly across the sky.

And now, far off
In the fragrant darkness
The tree is tremulous again with bloom
For June comes back.

To-night what girl
When she goes home,
Dreamily before her mirror shakes from her hair
This year’s blossoms, clinging in its coils?


This poem is in the public domain.

Bert has chosen this lovely poem by Sara Teasdale for Summer Dreams. Thanks Bert, for choosing your first poem for Poetry Breakfast ~ at Home. It’s good to welcome you here!

Bert Moslem

Poetry Breakfast, Aardvark Books

Returning After A Holiday

Liz Lefroy


Two weeks away, and when I return it’s dark.
I leave my case in the hall, hang up my coat.
take off my shoes, go through the sleeping house.

I remember this lock, the way the key needs to sit
just so for the levers to give and turn.

I step out into the intended scent of sweet peas
and onto dry twigs, meaning the pigeons
have built their careless nests nearby.

It must’ve rained here for things not to have died,
for them to be knee and shoulder high.

The grass is like this: a deep coolness held in itself
so to lie on it is obvious, to press my face down
into the feel of what must be green.

I sense the long tap of the rose on my back,
bending under its low weight of petals,
reminding me to turn over, to look at the stars.


from Mending the Ordinary, published by Fairacre Press.

Kathy has selected this poem by Liz Lefroy – I love the thought of the rose reminding her to turn over and look at the stars! Thank you Liz, for allowing us to share this poem.

Kathy Watson

Poetry Breakfast, Much Wenlock


The Skunk by Seamus Heaney is one of his best known poems. It was first published in Field Work, Faber 1975, and is now collected in 100 Poems also published by Faber, 2018

Thank you Joyce, for choosing this poem.

Joyce Watson

Poetry Breakfast, Aardvark Books

Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?


William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Philip also requested Laurie Lee’s lovely poem Home From Abroad – but I’m sorry I don’t have permission to include it here. And lastly, Philip asked for Adlestrop, but I know we’re going to be including it in the Journeying theme next week – so for now, just hop across and read it here!

Thanks, Philip.


Philip Browning

Poetry Breakfast, Much Wenlock

And now, unusally, Liz Lefroy offers a non-poetry choice for us to enjoy, and I (ever a book-seller) commend a poetry magazine.

The Summer Book offers, in its story of grandmother and granddaughter spending the summer on a Finnish island, an insight into the intimacy that can be found in generational separation. They talk about not quite everything. For me, it resonates with the endless light that comes with northern summers, and reminds me of the unsentimental and precious love I received from my own grandmother.
I don’t often re-read books, as there are so many to enjoy, but as we tip over into shortening days, I find myself wanting  to receive this  book’s briny light once more into my cupped hands.
Liz Lefroy


My recommendation is for any one who enjoys short fiction and/or poetry, especially by new writers: Under the Radar is a quarterly magazine produced by Nine Arches Press, based in Birmingham. You can buy single issues, or subscribe (just £25 a year) and the magazine is full of genuinely exciting writing and excellent reviews. If you are interested in the very best of contemporary poetry – this is the place to go!

Issue 25 has a short fiction piece called Flowers by Katie Hanlon, which was written, submitted and chosen before the Covid-19 pandemic this Spring but resonates profoundly with our present moment.  There are also three new poems by Alison Brackenbury and a review by Jonathan Davidson of Thirza Clout’s collection, Aunts Come Bearing Welsh Cakes – and quite aside from these personal connections, it really is well worth reading.

And one last thing:  I’m delighted that The Poetry Pharmacy is going to be our go-to poetry bookshop – more details after the summer break. Deb and her team will be re-opening from July 23rd.

Anna Dreda

So that’s it for another week.  Thank you, as ever, to all the poets and publishers who have enabled us to share their poems, and to all our poetry readers who have made recommendations. This wouldn’t happen without you!

Please send us poems by email or you can use the Comments function at the bottom of the page.  You can also follow us using the social media buttons just below.

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We would love to hear (and share) your suggestions: don’t wait to be invited!

Anna Dreda

Poetry Breakfast, Wenlock Books Events


  1. Alix Nathan

    Always new things to discover! Tom Duddy on Robert Frost – what a lovely poem and goodness, who is Ebenezer Jones, who sounds at first read like a John Clare-like poet? Fascinating. Thank you.

    • Anna Dreda

      Thanks Alix, one of the joys of Poetry Breakfast!

  2. Jude Walker

    Such a beautiful selection – and so many that are new to me.

    I loved Liz Lefroy’s ”Returning After a Holiday’ and thought her description of Tove Jansson’s ‘The Summer Book’ was perfect. I’m compelled to read it again, to capture that light.

    Thanks again. A breakfast feast!

    • Anna Dreda

      So glad you enjoyed it, Jude. Look out for another of Liz Lefroy’s poems in this week’s post on Journeying!


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