A shocked and blasted silence. All is still
Except the crows that blow like tattered flags
Among the shattered stalks reduced to rags
And splinters by steel blades and iron will.
Both sides dug deep: across the battlefield
The breastworks brood where tyres and heavy clay
Clashed in their ancient feud. Machines held sway,
Forced sodden crop and stubborn ground to yield.
A triumph, then. Yet this exhausted land
Remains unchanged: in time these marks will fade
And then the victors will be forced to trade
Once more; release the throat, and clasp the hand.
To leave enough to do it all again.
The truest test of country, and of men.
On Thursday, I passed a recently-cut field of forage maize, which, to judge by the mud and ruts, had put up quite a fight. It made me think of the US election: all that time, effort, money and struggle, yet nothing fundamental appears (at least to an outsider like me) to have changed very much; on our TV news here in the UK, pundits are already talking about the challenges facing whoever comes after President Obama. Seems to me that, just as farmers need to keep their land in good heart while striving for the greatest possible yield, our politicians need to remember that, even if they win this time, they’re going to need our goodwill again somewhere down the line. N.