Poems from the Pages · The Magazine Rack

Poem: July

A girl waters flowers in a 1920s illustration. A house sits in the background. Picture accompanies a poem, July, by Susan Swett.
Warm weather, beautiful flowers… it must be July!

This month’s poem, July by Susan Swett, is an old one. The poet died in Boston in 1907.

Susan lived with her younger sister Sophie, and both made their living as writers. Susan wrote poems and short stories. Her sister wrote stories and for a while was an editor of Youth’s Companion magazine. Susan’s poems appeared in children’s magazines like St. Nicholas as well as periodicals aimed at adult readership.

Of all her work, July is probably Susan Swett’s most famous poem. It appeared in children’s readers, women’s magazines, and you can find it online today.

Life of the poet

Born in Maine in 1843, Susan wrote one book of short stories, Field Clover and Beach Grass. It was published in 1898. A regional writer, her stories focus on the New England area that she knew. Much of Field Clover and Beach Grass is written in a New England dialect. However, she wrote her poems in standard English.

Published the day after her death, her obituary says, “her poems… reflected in a peculiarly happy manner the writer’s intimate knowledge of nature and her fondness for birds and flowers and all the various phases of the outdoor world. She was a ‘nature lover’ in the broadest and best sense, and though her fine talent for writing was for many years hindered by impaired health she has left many word-pictures of field and forest and garden that are deemed among the best of their kind.” (The Boston Globe, Jan 1, 1908.)


I hope you enjoy this month’s magazine poem, July, by Susan Swett. It appeared in a copy of Needlecraft magazine in the early 1920s.

by Susan Hartley Swett 

When the scarlet cardinal tells
  Her dream to the dragon-fly,
And the lazy breeze makes a nest in the trees,
  And murmurs a lullaby––
    It is July.

When the tangled cobweb pulls
  The cornflower's cap awry,
And the lilies tall lean over the wall
  To bow to the butterfly
    It is July.

When the heat like a mist-veil floats,
  And poppies flame in the rye,
And the silver note in the streamlet's throat
  Has softened almost to a sigh––
    It is July.

When the hours are so still that time
  Forgets them and lets them lie
Neath petals pink till the night stars wink
  At the sunset in the sky––
    It is July.

If you would like to read other poems that magazines of the day thought their readers might enjoy, see A Song of June and Hurdy Gurdy Days.