Sonnet Cycle: The Field – Part 1



Cold, silent, colourless. A kind of death
Has taken me; my mourners are the crows
Who stalk my stubbles as the land-drain flows
And swells the swirling ditch. My shallow breath
Hangs in the air at dawn; at dusk I bleed
Where sunset strikes the still-raw chevron scars
Of tractors; while the Hunter’s seven stars
Burn over me, I dream of sun and seed.
For life still smoulders in me, though it burns
Its lowest as dark days die young, and men
With hounds and guns find food in me again;
Beneath my sleeping soil the great wheel turns.
The year is buried deep in me for now;
Awaiting resurrection by the plough.

6 thoughts on “Sonnet Cycle: The Field – Part 1

    • I certainly am, John. This is the view from the playing fields at the end of our street – for the moment, at least: Wealden District Council has just nodded through plans for 1,000 (yes, that’s three zeroes) houses on the three fields in the foreground and middle distance, over the hill by the woods, and across a sweep of roughly 120 degrees to the right of this view. Work’s due to start in 2016. We fought it every inch of the way, of course, but the planning people (none of whom live here, obviously) simply ignored us. It’s what prompted to me to write this sonnet cycle: I wanted to give the land a voice – not that it will be listened to any more than we were. Anyway, many thanks for your very kind and encouraging words: the next instalment will be here tomorrow! N.

  1. Commerce always has a voice, Nick. I hope you are posting these sonnets in the local newspaper. The craftsmanship, as John says, is superb. The land does need a voice, and this sonnet, in its sheer loveliness, provides a voice that should ring clearly over the hammers of 1,000 houses. We have enough commerce. Its greed is taking over the earth, and the earth seems to be in danger as a result as global warming and a stack of other environmental dangers clog up the cries of economic freedom over human dignity and work and the ancient pathways of making a living out of the land rather than over the land. Here, in New Mexico, we can still walk up the slopes of the Zuni Mountains, as Ethel does most days, and chance upon jackrabbits, elk, coyotes, and other wildlife. Avoiding mountain lions and rattlesnakes is always a good idea, although when the tarantulas in the fall get in their warrior stance on the road Ethel walks up, they always seems to fell a poem from her sleeve. The idea of farmland being plowed over and plowed over is depressing. I vote for sonnets, harrowed out of the stubbles of harvested growth, and the old pathways the ring so strongly in well crafted meter and words. Give me that music, this sonnet, any day!

    • New Mexico sounds truly wonderful, Tom: I shall have to get out and see your beautiful landscape for myself some day. The pressure on this corner of southern England has always been intense: in some ways, I’m astonished we’ve managed to escape the tsunami of development for so long. And they haven’t started work yet, so who knows. Maybe this whole recession/credit crunch thing might actually work in our favour, and the builders won’t find a bank willing to lend them the money for the project. The plans also specify that 45% of the housing must be ‘affordable’ (a relative term if ever these was one!) which may also put the developers off: they, of course, want only to build five-bedroom, triple-garage ‘executive homes’ they can sell for five or six hundred grand each (that’s sterling, not dollars). Meanwhile, I’ll keep on enjoying the view and wildlife and the roll of the farming year – and taking the liberty of sharing it all with you guys here – while I can. N.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.