Samuel Barley’s I’ll be back in summertime explores the classic comparisons between our natural world and the human temperament. Barley invites us to consider the temporary nature of the seasons and the way in which this constant change reflects human nature. The speaker’s nostalgia for summertime is forgotten by the end of the poem as the ever-changing nature of the seasons reminds us that we should not forget about our future – ‘shall it we seek?’
I’ll be back in summertime
I’ll be back in summertime when the bee’s hum and children laugh,
As the sun clinks off the cold cider in our father’s glasses,
And our mothers chortle as if no one can see them in their extravagance,
“400 pounds for a hat!” they’ll cry, “Whatever next!”
The grass will sit softly across the muddy path and over the ancient bridge beneath which the river passes where I trace my steps,
And you will follow me like a trail of brave warrior ants…
But now it’s wintertime and the ice grips us still,
It holds us captive, freezing your heart and mine.
There is no laughter to be had, no dreams to be shared,
Only the whispers of some long forgotten pledge,
That for the briefest moment, brings me some short thrill.
Wintertime does not ask if you care or cared,
It just slides over you, in its rose blossom sledge…
The Autumn is just as cruel, but somehow we brave it better.
The golden oaks and chill breeze,
The memory of a summertime now gone,
But it haunts us with its age as if it has all been done before.
School opens again and as children study the letter,
We slide into routine with something more than ease,
For we have been drifting for far too long…
Spring will one day rise, not when it ought to,
As the blossom of a new love can so often do.
Its promise and potential raising from the ground the lilies
That come to greet and to see you,
To knock upon that rotting carcass of a door,
Guarding the centre of your chest, calling it back anew.
If only I could see, what it was you saw…
The seasons of our hearts do not come in order,
Oft they leave us bereft of a Summer for many years,
But wintertime does not last forever, nor should it,
Because these seasons roll around to give us hope.
So lift thy chin to the sky, and let the tears roll down your cheek,
For the future is coming, our fortune awaits, shall it we seek?