On the Harvest

van gogh wheat field with crows

A song for the harvest, based on an old tale of folklore… (Painting by van Gogh – Wheat Field with Crows)

In early spring, young dreamer, Silas Crow
Did so lament ‘is status as a farmer..
Nah full o’ fortune, rather full o’ woe:
When came ta growin’ wheat, ‘e were nah charmer…

Crow was ‘is name ’cause ‘e was friend o’ birds.
Nah chased ’em off ‘is field, at cost o’ yield.
The crows ‘e favoured, by ‘is very words,
‘is admiration truly ‘ad been sealed.

One day, while ‘e was fightin’ wi’ some weeds,
(Who seemed to laugh at ‘im – this farmin’ joke)
Young Silas tumbled back, scatterin’ ‘is seeds…
‘e banged ‘is ‘ead… ’til sunset nah awoke.

An’ when ‘is eyes did open, lookin’ down,
There was a friendly crow who opened beak…
Unsure if t’was the injury to ‘is crown,
Young Silas jumped as it began ta speak:

“Farmer…” it started, in a raspy tone,
“Ye wish a noted harvest for the year?”
Silas did nod. “Then seeds are to be sown –
Don’t waste yer time a-sittin’ on yer rear.”

The man got to ‘is feet an’ Crow did spake:
“I’ll ‘elp yer to a rich an’ fruitful yield…
If ye do as I say, wi’ nah mistake,
Yer’ll ‘ave the fullest bounty o’ yer field.”

And with that, Crow did ask of the young man
For half ‘is seed ta feed ‘is birdy friends..
Silas agreed, open to any plan
That might result in any fruitful ends.

So as the year rolled onwards, Summer-bound,
The crops did flourish well, nah pecked an’ small.
Silas came out for battle wi’ the ground,
The ritual pullin’ o’ the weeds so tall…

But suddenly, alighted ‘is friend Crow,
Who merely stood an’ slowly shook ‘is head.
Young Silas stopped an’ leaned upon ‘is hoe
To listen to what Crow came forth an’ said:

“Pull up the weeds, but leave them not to die.
Instead, replant ’em, borderin’ the field.”
Silas, ‘e frowned, an’ questioned Crow: “But.. why?”
Crow laughed: “Ye’ll find a fuller crop so sealed.”

So Silas did ‘is biddin’… an’ come time
Ta reap the fruits o’ harvest fer the year,
‘E did indeed each farmer’s yield outshine.
‘E gathered crops an’ grinned from ear to ear.

After the grand harvest celebration,
When Silas took the crown fer best o’ show,
The bird flew down an’ by ‘im took ‘is station.
Silas did thank an’ praise that wily crow.

The crow explained: “Plants are like earthly balance…
Each brother needs ‘is siblin’ to be close.
A man can have a lifetime full o’ talents,
But listen to this Crow, so well verbose…”

“Without the vicious weed, there is no flower.
Without the lengthened nights, no rest for sun.
For now, ivy takes oak within its power…
The tapestry o’ nature here be spun.”

On the Harvest

Nancy and the Mud Man

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Out on the fens, one mornin’ chilled,
Where fog trailed fingers low,
Upon wood walkways men did build
A young maid she did go.

She tripped along, ta berries seek,
This maiden known as Nancy.
For she knew this landscape bleak
Had nibbles for ‘er fancy.

Nah long she’d followed that straight road
‘Til heard she a strange sound…
A suckin’ squelch… and so she slowed
And cautious, turned around.

A sight o’ horror met ‘er eyes –
A monster o’ the bog!
A man o’ mud did steady rise
All drippin’ in the fog.

She screamed an’ turned, this frightened lass,
To run fast from the beast.
But ‘ere she did, she heard: ‘Alas!
I’ll never be released!’

The woeful pain within the voice
Made Nancy stop and look.
The mud man stood, all brown an’ moist –
His head forlornly shook.

She tentatively took a pace
Towards the muddy mess.
He sadly raised his sloppy face
And sobs did he suppress.

‘Dear miss,’ said he, ‘I doesn’t try
Ta frighten merry folk.
I only wants ‘em ta come by
And friendly talk an’ joke.’

Young Nancy listened to him moan
And muttered ‘Ye poor fellow…’
And he explained an aged crone
(with skin all wrinkly yellow)

Had told him ‘e could twist ‘is fate
If ‘e could find a maid
Who’d nah look upon ‘im in hate
But kiss him, unafraid.

He’d transform to a strappin’ male,
All ‘andsome, kind an’ smart.
Nancy listened to ‘is tale
And felt it in ‘er heart…

She said: ‘I’ll grant ye a true kiss,
Nah gave in fear, but free.’
The mud man cried, ‘Oh bless ye miss!
Ye’s filled this beast wi’ glee!’

So stood she up, upon toe-tips,
To kiss the mud man’s face.
She grimaced as she suffered sips
O’ mud an’ earthy taste.

And as she felt she needed air
Amid the runny slop
She found her lips were glued fast there:
She found she could nah stop…

She screamed out muffled as her head
Was getting sucked in too…
She wriggled, kicked as the monster fed
All gulpin’ without chew.

And in due time, she was all ate…
‘er legs an’ feet an’ toes.
The monster cackled at her fate
‘That’s ‘ow the maids all goes!’

‘Fool they be but feast for me,
All falls fer my smart trick!’
They’s all soft-heart an’ nah does see
Or uses wit so quick!’

And so ‘e slopped along the planks
All built by men in’t fog.
Heavy with lunch, he crossed the banks
An’ sank into the bog.

(Illustration – Nøkken by Theodor Kittelsen)

Nancy and the Mud Man

Pesta – Plague Hag

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Onwards I tread,
No kin have I alike: kindred to chaos,
Shuffle, rake and broom.
The hills are hollowed out
To eyeless sockets
Pock-marked, pallid.
Onwards I tread,
Trudging o’er the mud.
Sweep swift, and renew,
Rake and broom, the limbs lie gaunt.
Thrice knocking, muffled in the mist.
One for man and wife, one for their daughter.
Onwards I tread, relentless:
An ambling, rolling fog,
Or a figure, barely glimpsed
In darkened cloth.
Here is your door.
I, shadow pest a-trudging up your stairs…
I tread softly…
I will stop and watch you first.

Pesta – Plague Hag