Poetry of the Year: August

Wearing summer’s golden crown
the month of August arrives
like a struck match,
burning quickly as we enter
the dog days of summer.
Wild fires lay waste the land
as the scorching sun
burns the gasping fields.

Blessed Lammas, first harvest!
As apples swell with promise
and blackberries ripen,
John Barleycorn knows he must die
when the grain is gathered.
By the fruits of his labour,
let us share bread
and bless our Mother Earth

During the Festival of Torches
let us honour the Moon,
carry a torch or candle
to the Lake of the Divine,
light up Diana’s dark mirror.
Goddess of three ways,
mother, maiden and crone,
magpie of all wild seed.

While green fades to gold
only slowly do we notice,
summer’s light diminishing,
and how our Father Sun
hits the hay earlier each night.
As leaves pale to yellow,
the mythical phoenix
steps into August’s flames.


Copyright © Deborah Gregory 2019

18 thoughts on “August

  1. Good morning Deborah, one of my FB followers shared a link to your poem. As poetry is my mother tongue I look forward to reading more of your work. You’re the first poet in a long time who makes me feel like writing new poems. Regards, Lucy.

    1. Thank you so much Lucy for your truly heart-felt reply and welcome to my poetry and Jungian thought website. This is where my poems and essays come to live before they find themselves transformed into book-like shapes. Lammas blessings and gratitude, Deborah.

  2. Deborah this is a wonderful picture of August painted in your so beautifully woven words. It is indeed a scorching month, a time of heatwaves creating a very hot, dry Lammas and your first verse sets this scene so vividly, drawing me further in to your picture. Walking this week in favourite nature spots the fields were golden, the first harvest of grain was ripening fast and I walked in wonder at the abundance created by the coming together of Father Sun and Mother Earth. I noticed also the profusion of Meadowsweet in the hedgerow – I love the delicacy of the flowers and when I read more about it (I am trying to educate myself more on wild flowers!) I found out that it is a sacred herb to Druids who use it as a garland when celebrating Lammas – ah the serendipity of it all, I do love this time of year!

    So thank you Deborah for your beautiful poem and an abundance of blessings to you. Love and light. Sophia.

    1. Thank you so much Sophia for your wonderful comment and ongoing support! What joy it is for me to reply that “Meadowsweet” is one of those wild flowers I can now identify at a glance (and its scent!) although I didn’t know that it was included in the Lammas garlands. Throughout July I saw it almost daily, fizzing and frothing along many a hedgerow, most especially up north! (UK)

      Yesterday while driving back on a long trip I noticed more and more how green was fading to gold and how the sweet chestnut leaves were already yellowing with its fruit wrapped in green, spiky cases emerging … hmm, it takes the tree 25 years before it even bears any fruit!

      I have a feeling next year may be a “Tree” year and perhaps I will poetically contemplate “The Ogham” as a series of new poems for 2020. We’ll have to wait and see! Love and light, Deborah.

      1. That sounds like a great new project – Glennie Kindred has a range of books that give loads of information about the Tree Ogham which you may find helpful.

        1. Thank you Sophia. I just noticed (Amazon UK) she published a new tree book, “Walking with Trees” February 2019 so that might be a good one to start with.

  3. Beautiful, dear Deborah. I look forward to the first of each month and your ode to nature. Through your words, I look at my world with fresh eyes.

    We’re having a green wet summer in western New York, but the grasses are golden as they mature and goldenrod (do you also have that in England?) is about to flower. My flower beds are summer’s hot colors of gold, orange, and red. The orange and black Monarch butterflies are plentiful, and I’m raising them on my back porch from gold, white, and black caterpillar to orange and black butterfly. I have 80 at various stages in my protected nursery, so beginning next week, I’ll have the joy of chrysalis becoming butterfly with release and flight as they enjoy wildflowers and lay eggs for progeny that migrate to Mexico. I feel like I’m taking part in a miracle each time.

    Imagine the cupped hand I offer you filled with blackberries picked in the field. I love imagining Diana/Artemis presiding over this season of fattening deer and wild turkeys. I saw a young red fox on my way home the other evening–rusty red and unafraid. Wild birds eat thistle seeds in the fields, and you remind me of shortening days which are a relief by now. It’s easier to get to bed at a restful hour and sleep a little longer. Even with Father Sun is hot, the evenings cool with a hint of what’s to come.

    Blessings to you for blessing us with another poem.

    1. Thank you so much Elaine for your beautiful reply! I feel doubly blessed that a few liked minded souls read them too. In fact the whole practice I find is helping me to see the world through fresh eyes myself … for the rhythms and cycles of nature are just incredible aren’t they when observed, much like your Monarch butterflies, at close hand! What a magickal, life-changing year it’s turning out to be as my relationship with nature deepens and deepens.

      It’s wonderful to hear how summer is unfolding in your neck of the woods and can imagine huge clusters of goldenrod about to burst into flower. As I live on the south coast I don’t see them as often as when I’m in the northern lands where they’ve established their stronghold. However re: wildflowers, alongside the poetry, I’ve been learning to identify a few more this year and so it’s wonderful to see great swathes of pink spires and know them as Rosebud Willowherb. Your garden sounds like it’s a beautiful, hot riot of colour this month! And how magickal it is for this poet to imagine your back porch full of Monarch caterpillars and butterflies in all stages of development. Yes, my dear friend! You are most definitely taking part in a miracle, the miracle of life itself!

      Ah, tis the “season of fattening deer and wild turkeys” what wonderful, poetic descriptions you gift me … alongside tales of your wild fox and birds encounters. And in deep gratitude do I receive your loving, cupped hand filled with ripe blackberries dear poet! What a beautiful image, words that lifted themselves of the page and into my heart! Have a truly wonderful August Elaine and I shall look forward to see more of your stunning Monarch photos and more of your wonderful written words next week. Sending you much love and light, Deborah.

  4. I was anticipating your August poem with glee Deborah as I always do a few days before the first of the month and as usual it is glorious, thank you. So much imagery in your lines. It packs a punch which reminds me of the saying ‘a pinch and a punch for the first of the month’. AuGUST also reminds me that here in my spheres, AuGUST usually brings gusts of wind, which is true this day. The sea is a color I’ve never seen before … a deep navy with tinges of a luminous deep green whipped with the white of the waves that seem even whiter – a bit like how your blowing hay in the photo has a luminosity …

    I’m also reminded of Demeter and Persephone and the corn festivals ..

    I love observing the cycles of the seasons and being aware that it gets dark later and light earlier here in the Southern Hemisphere. August is such an interesting month when it seems not to be able to make up its mind which season to delve into – at least here! We’ve had snow but also unseasonably warm days –

    So thank you dear Poet for your beautiful words 🙂 Love & Light, Susan

    1. Having been on a long trip today, it’s lovely to come back and read your glorious response to my poem. Thank you so much Susan! Ha-Ha! Yes, that pinch and punch routine is familiar to me and something my youngest daughter STILL tries to catch me out on … despite being in her 20’s! Re: GUST’s, it’s been very windy here on the south coast as of late, alongside yet another (they happen too often!) record-breaking heat wave across Europe in recent times.

      Plettenberg Bay sounds gorgeous with its deep navy blue and luminous green flecked seas. A few days ago I took a fab shot of the sea close to where I live – do check out the colours (in the other place!) as the sea is a beautiful turquoise colour, no doubt changed by the edges of chalk cliffs it surrounds. One day I remember driving home and had to stop the car because the colour of the sea was an incredible green colour I too had never seen. The ocean (living waters) is truly amazing in all Her colours!

      Many thanks for the Demeter and Persephone nudge as I love reading and re-reading their deep stories … which at times (like many women I’m sure) have felt more like my personal myth. Never before have I observed the rhythms and cycles of the year as I’m doing now by writing out this Poetry of the Year series which I’m loving. It’s so hard to even contemplate “snow” in late summer yet we know the opposite season will come. Love and light, Deborah.

  5. Deborah, this is why I love your poetry so much because I hadn’t even heard of a moon festival in august before reading your poem. This line “John Barleycorn knows he must die” really stood out for me reminding me of a song we studied at school or maybe we talked about it a lot because all of a sudden I’m remembering our whole class making corn dolls and the teacher telling us how John Barleycorn had to die in order for bread and beer to be made…. at the time I thought ‘he’ was a real person not a mythological one so I couldn’t understand why he was being killed and no one seemed to mind hahaha!!! Thank you for bringing this old school memory back, one I thought I’d long forgotten. HF

    1. Thank you so much Henry for your kind-hearted words and for sharing your wonderful “corn doll” story. Sadly we didn’t do anything like that at school and I only learnt who John Barleycorn was (through a folk song) while we were being initiated into a Druid, Order of the Bards a few Lammas’ ago at Avebury, in Wiltshire. It was a truly magickal and memorable experience I hasten to add! Hmm, maybe that’s how John Barleycorn found his way back into my poem this month! Love and light, Deborah.

        1. Wow! They don’t make music like this today, thank you so much Henry for the upload! To all my readers here’s the living legend that is Steve Winwood singing about another legendary (mythological) man “John Barleycorn (must die)”.

          Here’s the opening lyrics … “There were three men came out of the west, their fortunes for to try / and these three men made a solemn vow / John Barleycorn must die …” Enjoy! Great way to celebrate Lammas and remember the season.

  6. Hi Deborah, I didn’t know about the ‘Festival of Torches’ [V.3] so read more online. As it’s dated from 13th it’s perfectly timed for August’s full moon – a double celebration this year. It was inspiring to learn this ancient festival evolved into the ‘Feast of the Assumption’ via the Catholic Church. As always your nature poetry is beautiful from ‘August’s’ opening to closing line. This is my favourite poem of the year so far, I applaud you! All the best, Anna.

    1. Thank you so much Anna for your lovely reply to my poem! Yes, the full moon in August is set for the 15th so it’ll be a double celebration for this ancient festival indeed! Another name for this three day festival, (alongside the “Feast of the Assumption” which is also set for 15th) is “Nemoralia” which you’ve probably already discovered. Oh, I’m so pleased that you enjoyed my August poem, it’s more than any poet could wish for! Love and light, Deborah.

    1. Oh thank you so much Aladin! I’m delighted that you enjoyed my poem and hope that your holiday in Greece is going well. It’s such a magical place! Love and light, Deborah.

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