A Time To Sit And Stare in The August Heat

August Heat is the title of an anonymous poem that I rather like. It describes exactly what I do when the weather is hot. It speaks of doing nothing other than sitting. Suits me!

August Heat

In August, when the days are hot,
I like to find a shady spot,
And hardly move a single bit—
And sit—
And sit—
And sit!

Anonymous
And sit, and sit, and sit!

We may never know the name of the poet who wrote August Heat. It is a poem that (in my mind) I link with the great poem, Leisure by the Welsh poet W. H. Davies. Davies wrote this in 1911. 

Leisure

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep and cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

W. H. Davies (1872-1940)

It is over a hundred years since W. H. Davies’s concerns about the increasing pressures of modern life inspired him to write his poem, Leisure. Losing the ability to be. The simple ability to “stand and stare”. 

He was aware of the rising demands of modernity (this is in 1911, don’t forget!), of modern life being so hectic that it robs us of the stillness and quiet, to “stand and stare” and notice nature. 

“We have no time to stand and stare.”

We Have No Time To Stand And Stare | Artwork & Photography: Lesley Scoble

If it was a problem in 1911, when life was simpler than it is today, how much more important is it for us in the 21st century to find time to stand (or sit) and stare?

Influenced by both these poems August Heat by an anonymous poet and Leisure by W. H. Davies, I have written my own about sitting and standing and lying down! While staring.

Time to Sit and Stare

Time to get out there
And stand and stare
(or sit in a chair)
Go outside and breathe fresh air
You know you want to,
Go on. I dare!

There is time
To stand (or sit) and stare
Or lie down!—and look at the stars
(You can see the stars better if you lie down)
Or gaze at the moon
At the height of noon
See diamonds and stars a-glint on the sea
A leaf waving ‘hi!’
High up in a tree
Whatever you do
Go outside
and see.

“A leaf waving ‘hi!’
High up in a tree”

Stare at the hedgerows
The cows lowing deep
A running hare 
And the following sheep
A bird flying by
Way up in the sky
A young robin bathes in a babbling brook.
Well, if nothing else is, that’s worth a look!

“A young robin bathes in a babbling brook.
Well, if nothing else is, that’s worth a look!”

Go out and stare as far as your eye can see
The distant horizon
A sunset at sea
Or stare down on the ground
Where small wonders are found.

Lesley Scoble August 2022

Or stare down on the ground
Where small wonders are found.

The World is a Rectangle

Today, many of us look at life through a rectangle. Staring at the rectangle screen of a mobile phone, iPad, TV and computer (I know. My Kindle is also a rectangle!).
This lifestyle is alienating us from simply standing and staring (or sitting and staring!) at nature. The poem warns us that the frantic pace of contemporary life is harmful to the human spirit.

Don’t feel guilty about doing nothing. Doing nothing is good for our mental health!

Take time out and stand (or sit!) and stare.

Enjoy having a good stare!

13 comments

    • Hi Hilary,
      Thank you for your lovely comment—I am so happy to join the circle! #WATWB has motivated me! 😁 looking forward to seeing you next month – all the very best to you,
      Lesley

      Like

  1. Hi Lesley,

    I have also been overwhelmed with the threatening climate crisis. So many ideas for small things I could do but will it be enough?

    However, I decided that even small steps are worth it and every small step can inspire others so that we can do some bigger steps together.

    Perhaps, if you have time, you could consider joining us at the 3rd global Climate Strike Week from 20th – 27th September. There will be events of all kinds everywhere.

    General information: https://www.damyantiwrites.com/2019/07/03/positive-stories-mumbai-writing/

    or find a local Fridays for Future group on Facebook

    Like

    • Hello Stephanie,
      Yes, small steps can lead to going a fair distance! I shall be pleased to look up a local group (I live in the City of London) and see where I might be able to contribute.
      Thanks for contacting me,
      Lesley

      Like

  2. Reblogged this on Lesley Scoble.com and commented:

    I’ve updated an old blog about an anonymous poem August Heat and W. H. Davies’s famous poem No Time to Stand and Stare. I include my own poem influenced by these two great poets. It is Time to Stand and Stare.

    Like

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