Mark Parry


God Speed the Plough


The farmer ploughed the field early that year:
Long before the frosts of late autumn
Left diamonds of white sheen
On the valleys and hills of crisp soil.

Birds came in the plough’s wake –
Sparrow, crow, rook and raven;
A night-sentry owl perched
On a nearby tree,
Satellite dish eyes
Scanning the furrows,
Ready to swoop on any mammal
Confused by the plough’s toil.

Leaves fell in the sharp winds
Of a remembrance-filled November:
Saints, souls and soldiers
Lost in memory and prayer,
Now celebrated in rites of silence:
Lowered flags and flickering candles.

Now each buried beneath
The tracks of tractor and machine -
In foreign fields where
Purple poppies stand in rows
In a place that will be forever England.

Furrows weep an eternity of shame,
And clouds flee at the sight
As daily the desolate sun-stroked skies
Toll as the earth remembers them,
For in earth they are cherished.

In reverence of the winter’s cold.
A resonance of merry-making
With impatient cars shunting
Up and down crammed motorways,
Each bearing fashionable gifts,
Each expected and bestowed
With the promise of rescue
As benefactors retain receipts.

All this…all this anticipation
Prepares the soil
For the sowing of the seed
In furrows of humankind:
Good and bad,
Elation and sadness,
Smiles and tears
Lodged together in a cave
Stinking of cow and hay.

A mother marking history
With her furrow of simple obedience;
Shepherds confused and bewildered:
A husband watchful and patient,
Allowing to be what will be.
A child, in his infancy,
Ploughing in History’s field
A furrow straight and deep:

Planting seed so full of life
That no passing time,
No act of cruelty or hate,
No foul charm or weed of wickedness,
No national disbelief or doubt
However popular,
Shall stop this goodness
In its growing.

In the silence of a field
Christ has come.

Submitted: Monday, December 09, 2013
Edited: Monday, December 09, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

The title, God Speed the Plough is the first sentence of the blessing of the plough which used to take place throughout the UK on Plough Sunday - the first Sunday after Epiphany,6th January.

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