Estate di San Martino/Indian Summer

11 November is Saint Martin’s day, also known as the Funeral of Saint Martin, because Saint Martin of Tours, who died on 8 November 397, was buried three days later. According to tradition, he cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save him from the cold harsh winter.
In Italy “Estate di San Martino” (Saint Martin’s Summer) refers to a period of unseasonably warm weather in early November, which is termed “Indian Summer” in English-speaking countries.

Poem 130 – Emily Dickinson

These are the days when Birds come back—
A very few—a Bird or two—
To take a backward look.

These are the days when skies resume
The old—old sophistries of June—
A blue and gold mistake.

Oh fraud that cannot cheat the Bee—
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief.

Till ranks of seeds their witness bear—
And softly thro’ the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf.

Oh Sacrament of summer days,
Oh Last Communion in the Haze—
Permit a child to join.

Thy sacred emblems to partake—
Thy consecrated bread to break
Taste thine immortal wine!

Fall and winter are on their way, the good weather is over, but during Indian Summer nature seems to refuse to transform itself into the cold season. Almost all the birds have migrated to warmer countries but the blue skies and golden sun may indicate the return of summer, which is resuming the “sophistries” of June. However, that is only a “fraud”. Only the shrewd bee is not deceived, neither is the poet, although the plausibility of the warm weather may lead her to believe.

In the last two stanzas, the end of summer evokes religious feelings in the mind of the poet, the words and imagery of solemn church ritual seem to transform it into a final sacrament, whose solemnity is a prelude to immortality. Describing herself as a child, the poet requests to be allowed to participate in the Lord’s Supper, a way to revive her faith shattered by the “fraud” described in earlier stanzas.


Questi sono i giorni in cui tornano gli Uccelli –
pochissimi – un Uccello o due –
per dare uno sguardo al passato.

Questi sono i giorni in cui i cieli riprendono
le vecchie raffinatezze di giugno –
un equivoco azzurro e dorato.

Oh inganno che non puoi fuorviare l’Ape
ma così plausibile
da indurmi quasi a credere,

finché nugoli di semi vengono a testimoniarlo –
e attraverso l’aria contraffatta
delicatamente si affretta una timida foglia.

Oh Sacramento dei giorni d’estate,
oh Ultima Comunione nella Foschia –
permetti a una fanciulla di partecipare-

di condividere i tuoi sacri emblemi –
di spezzare il tuo pane consacrato
di gustare il tuo vino immortale!

(L.Z.)

28 thoughts on “Estate di San Martino/Indian Summer

    1. Of course. Today is his name day, so please wish him a happy name day from me too.
      Saint Martin of Tours was a Roman soldier who later became a bishop . When he was still a soldier, he cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm. That night, he dreamt of Jesus, who was wearing the half-cloak and saying to the angels, “here is Martin, the Roman soldier who has clothed me”

      Liked by 1 person

    1. La Dickinson sa evocare tutte le sfumature dell’animo umano.
      In questi giorni di isolamento e solitudine. di ansia e depressione, io trovo conforto in questo blog che mi permette di uscire dal mio chiuso (come quello in cui si era relegata Emily) e sentirmi ancora parte di una comunità.
      Ti abbraccio, Shera carissima

      Like

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