Sunday, 26 June 2016

Farm Portrait

                                                                            A 19th-Century Hay Wagon

Dear Reader,

I am now going to take a break for two months from writing this blog and will start again on September 4th, a Sunday.  Lots of you very kindly encouraged me to keep going, so that is what I am going to do, and hope you will join me again then.

I thought I would end  my first year's weekly blog by writing about the Harvest Festival which is sometimes celebrated in the summer months or more often in September.  In Britain we have given thanks for a successful harvest since pagan times, and the Festival is traditionally held on the Sunday of or nearest to the Harvest Moon.  This is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox (22nd or 23rd September).  Celebrations on this day usually include singing hymns, praying, and decorating churches with baskets of fruit and food in the festival known as the Harvest Festival, or Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving.  This Festival is held to celebrate the fact that the hard work of the harvest is over for another year, and until the 20th century most farmers celebrated the end of the harvest with a big meal called harvest supper, to which all who had helped were invited.  Years ago church bells could be heard on each day of the harvest, and Harvest Festival reminds Christians of all the good things God gives them.


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.


Farm Portrait was the most popular poem I selected for my blog, the one you all liked best, so I thought it would be a good one to finish with and, possibly, for you to read again.

I wish you all a very happy summer time and hope that in September you will feel refreshed and eager for whatever good things autumn brings. 

And thank you for your support, emails, and comments, all of which were greatly appreciated.

With very best wishes, Patricia

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Farm Portrait is another lovely, very powerful and evocative poem. I love 'the lonely peewit'
I will miss your blog, but look forward to September. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxx