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 his status as a farmer..
Not full o’ fortune, rather full o’ woe:
When came to growing wheat, he were no charmer…

Crow was his name ’cause he was friend o’ birds.
Nah chased them off his field, at cost o’ yield.
The crows he favoured, by his very words,
His admiration truly had been sealed.

One day, while he was fighting with some weeds,
(Who seemed to laugh at him – this farming joke)
Young Silas tumbled back, scattering his seeds…
He banged his head… ’til sunset hadn’t woke.

And when his eyes did open, looking down,
There was a friendly crow who opened beak…
Unsure if t’was the injury to his crown,
Young Silas jumped as it began to 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 his feet and Crow did spake:
“I’ll help yer to a rich and fruitful yield…
If ye do as I say, with no mistake,
Ye’ll have the fullest bounty o’ yer field.”

And with that, Crow did ask of the young man
For half his seed to feed his 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, not pecked and small.
Silas came out for battle with the ground,
The ritual pulling o’ the weeds so tall…

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

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

So Silas did his biddind… and come time
To reap the fruits o’ harvest for the year,
He did indeed each farmer’s yield outshine.
He gathered crops and grinned from ear to ear.

After the grand harvest celebration,
When Silas took the crown for best o’ show,
The bird flew down and by him took his station.
Silas did thank and praise that wily crow.

The crow explained: “Plants are like earthly balance…
Each brother needs his sibling 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 is spun.”

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On the Harvest

Nancy and the Mud Man

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

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

Not long she’d followed that straight road
‘Til heard she a strange sound…
A sucking squelch… and so she slowed
And cautious, turned around.

A sight of horror met her eyes –
A monster of the bog!
A man of mud did steady rise
All dripping in the fog.

She screamed and 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 and 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 he could twist his fate
If he could find a maid
Who’d not look upon him in hate
But kiss him, unafraid.

He’d transform to a strapping male,
All handsome, kind and smart.
Nancy listened to his tale
And felt it in her heart…

She said: ‘I’ll grant ye a true kiss,
Not 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 and 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 not stop…

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

And in due time, she was all ate…
Her legs and feet and 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 he slopped along the planks
All built by men in’t fog.
Heavy with lunch, he crossed the banks
And 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