Sunday, 29 December 2019

Farm Portrait, 1880



                                                                                          Potato Pickers




Dear Reader,

I had a truly wonderful Christmas Day staying with Rachel, Francis's daughter in Ross-on-Wye.  I  had a stocking in bed with a cup of tea and a fabulous view of the distant hills.  We walked in the sunshine and then had a perfect Christmas lunch with turkey and all its accompaniments. Presents after lunch and then later we watched "Where Eagles Dare" a good exciting film with Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.   I hope you all had a lovely break and are now raring to start the new decade, I know I am.

December 30th, 1802 from Dorothy Wordsworth's journal:

'We ate potted beef on horseback and sweet cake.  We stopped our horse close to the hedge, opposite a tuft of primroses, three flowers in full blossom and a bud.  They reared themselves up among the green moss.  We debated long whether we should pluck them, and at last left them to live out their day, which I was right glad of at my return the Sunday following; for there they remained uninjured either by cold or wet.'


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Farm Portrait, 1880

That's me in the painting, a potato-picking wife,
dressed in clogs, a woollen shawl, a woollen shirt.
I stand on stony ground with my riddle and my knife,
put potatoes in my apron, worn over muddy skirt.
And that's my husband, wearing an old cloth cap
over pale face and wistful eyes, digging with our son,
while coughing Sarah holds within her lap
the swaddled, crying babe, until our work is done.
Our house is cold, dark, and full of mice,
the grind is hard, the winter weather harsh,
damp oozes from the walls, and we have lice,
the lonely peewit calls from the eerie marsh.
But, at dawn today, I heard a blackbird sing
and hope arose with thoughts of coming spring.

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With best wishes and a Happy New Year, Patricia

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