This was written as a response to Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18. You know the one: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” I generally enjoy his sonnets well enough, but I have no patience with them. Thus, any papers relating to them tend to be negative, like this one, which discusses just what a summer day really is.
Were I an inhabitant of the far north, I might better welcome summer as a paragon of better days. I might fondly recollect sweet breezes caressing my brow, and gaze with my mind’s eye upon bright flowers visited by fat bumble bees. I should, perhaps, not object to being compared to such a day. But as I reside in the backward south, I must confess that summer does seem to me to be a most horrid season.
As the first day of this most bright season arrives, I step out into the wild world and summer immediately surrounds my senses. The sun is so bright that its happy glow warms the landscape to one hundred degrees. Yet this light that bakes the earth cannot dispel the one hundred percent humidity.
As I move further into this oven, I gaze with joy upon the many blossoms that now display their full glory. But I cannot stray too close to these blooms, lest I come between the many bees battling for their share of sustenance. I pass on, only to see a most unhappy sight. My fair confederate rose is wilted for lack of moisture. I increase my good parents’ water bill by leaving a hose to drip at the tree’s roots.
As I pause for a moment, mine ears detect the shrill whine of a mosquito. That insect lights upon my skin. I slap myself, and move on. The air is full of a thousand perfumes, all vying for the attention of my nose. I sneeze.
I meander by the pool, and I long to dive into its coolness. Yet I know this is but an illusion: the water, surrounded by burning pavement, is at least eighty-nine degrees. I must squint my eyes to even look upon the area, for the sky is a pale, empty blue, with not a friendly rain cloud in sight. I reflect on this as I greet the horses, whose tails are constantly flipping and swishing, attempting to beat the flies away. I shudder as I catch the huge, beady eyes of the horsefly.
But now I must return to the confederate rose, and deprive it of its water source. When I arrive, there are small pools of water around it. And ah! Summer! What bewitching spell hast thou laid upon the land? For my cats do lie in those puddles of water, their tongues hanging out, as if they were dogs. What unnatural things do you cause dumb creatures to do?
It is all I can do to stagger back to the house, tongue dry, eyes sore, brow damp. As I collapse at the door, I can rest but for a moment before I am forced to flee inside by the ominous buzz of the fiery wasp. I slam the door, and bask and the sweet coolness of air conditioning, and earnestly pray to the maker of the seasons that the mechanical breeze might never break down.