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Poetry Pleases: The Magic Harvest

...Such richness was in that field,
It shone in the air, the very clouds were loaded
With goodness of hay, and the dust smelt sweet...

Caroline Glyn celebrates the glory and mystery of harvest time.

We were the first awakened,
Up in the fresh dark, excitement muted,
Harnessing the wains, caressing the blowing horses.
Then we led them out slowly, under the trees
That were still full of night
And dripped dew and nectar on us from heavy branches.
We laughed together under our breath,
preserving the joke,
For we were still the first and the cottages slept;
Even the horses' hoofs clattered soft with the hush.
We did not ask, nor think to ask, who had called us.
We had come out of timelessness
Into another. The horses wrenched up grass
From the banks of the lane as they went.
And so we came to the gate and the harvest field.

It was so bright
That the thick-laced hedge framed it as black as spikes.
The high stalks were full of cut jewels
And the birds were beginning to give away our secret.
In the priceless harvest nothing moved;
It waited for us in the awe of all things untouched.
Yet had we not laboured here often and often?
Who knew? It was our field from the beginning of time.

So we sighed at last, and slapped and called the horses,
Turning them in through the radiant gate.
All day we worked, with the rose and grey
Changing into mist of many colours, and so
Into the ripe haze of azure and gold.
Such richness was in that field,
It shone in the air, the very clouds were loaded
With goodness of hay, and the dust smelt sweet.
That reaping was a take for the ages.

The others had come now,
Who were they, from what world, or our shadow-selves?
We worked together without questions, moving backs,
Swinging to scythe or toss, fulfilled with sun,
Easy with laughter and friendship. There was cider
And bread at midday. So at last
In the white afternoon, when the wains were toppling,
We turned the horses and came back slowly,
The other way, by the river, singing and slow.
The river kindled to sunset as we came,
The hedges breathed out night, but the hay glowed.

And still it glowed as we turned into the yard.
In the full dark we saw the warm pile
High above us, glinting full of lanterns.
But in the morning the wains were empty,
As though they had never been moved,
We had never brought in
That blessed harvest, or else it was such
As we might not keep, or a load of dreams.
And it was a load of dreams, and its store secret,
Not gone, but unseen, and we were changed.

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