Sonnet Cycle: The Field – Part 3




No rest in these full, fiery days: the trust
Placed in me months long gone must be repaid
In fat, gold grain. The combine’s twelve-foot blade
Leaves me stark, convict-cropped. They raise my dust
With ten-tonne trailers, roll my ribs of straw
For steer and stable; when the men depart
The patient crows come gleaning – every part
Of all I’ve made picked up and set in store.
And in a monstrous sky my exhaled heat
Is gathered too. From thunderheads I’ve stacked
Ten miles high, blessed rain renews my cracked
And gasping soil. The circle is complete.
Once more I keep my promise made to Man;
Just as I have each year since time began.

8 thoughts on “Sonnet Cycle: The Field – Part 3

    • Thank you John. I had in mind a torrid August day 25 years ago, when I was student working on the farm. We’d been out making hay since mid-morning, and as the heat built up, the sky was growing heavier and more threatening by the hour. At about six o’clock that evening, we picked up the last load and started racing in (in so far as that’s possible with a tractor), by which time the clouds were like something out of the Book of Revelation. The storm caught us halfway back to the barn and, short of being thrown in a swimming pool, I’ve never got so wet so quickly. It was pleasing to put the experience to good use after all this time! N.

  1. Beautiful again, Nick, a paen to the field as servant to man even though, in the end, man does not treat the field with the historical sense of awareness that the field deserves. As I read the cycle I am sensing more and more its significance in terms of how we owe the fields that were once wonderful with weeds and wildflowers, but now labor in their nature for us even though, in the end, we will use concrete, wood, and steel to end their nature and tame it to the smallness of manicured lawns. What you are reaching at is an explanation of how nature overall relates to the humans that have made use of it for their own survival and endless growth ends. The environment of human and nature and harnessed nature comes out in this sequence with a wonderful, deep clarity.

    • Despite (or perhaps because of) having studied it at university many years ago, I must confess I still have a somewhat ambivalent relationship with contemporary agriculture. On the one hand, I can admire its incredible scientific and technological advances – and as you know, I have a definite soft spot for tractors (and the bigger the better!) At the same time, I share my hero JRR Tolkein’s distrust of much of the modern world, and the relentless drive for more, more, more of everything. I don;t know if this cycle has helped me resolve the conflict, but it’s been interesting to explore it. My true sympathies are assuredly with the land, though! N.

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