Hop picking 1941
In fruitful reds and floral gold the church is decked from wall to wall,
Sheaves of wheat adorn the aisle and grateful offerings mass the floor.
Pungent hops draped round the font once more, for harvest festival, revive the past, recalling days when we were children of a war.
No turning back to sleep again, those mornings in September, It seemed we'd been awake for hours just waiting for the dawn.
The shrouding, drifting mists half hid the path we took, remember? It seemed the world was ours alone as each day was born.
Before the sun had dried the dew, or insects tore frail threads. Of cobwebs sparkling in the hedge, like lace with diamond set; Damsons rained ripe 'wasp spoil' fruit on unsuspecting heads and legs were bathed by clinging fronds of green cow parsley, wet.
The winding path through dripping woods descended to the valley. Where pregnant bins, like lovers, held each pole in tight embrace. And blinkered shires prepared to toil as pickers stripped each alley- and oasts reached for a dawn-lit sky, with staid cathedral grace.
With flying fingers Grandma picked, a queen on canvas throne, surrounded by we children, who would her labours share.
Her sacking robes were stained with hops, her shoes all torn by stone, a straw hat on her head the only crown she'd ever wear!
Underfoot small infants crawled, like beetles in the dirt, and ragged toddlers roamed the bins in search of a friendly face.
No time, it seemed, to wash their hands, to hug, or kiss a hurt, no rest from picking hops, for her who laboured in this place.
And we who strive at Grandma's side, to fill that bin so deep, looked for no thanks nor pennies earn't, just glad to share each day.
Homewards dragged at eventide, too tired to eat or sleep, till drying hops on twilight breeze brought rest to where we lay.
And should the siren's warning call reverberate around, and toy-size planes their death games play among the clouds so high, we'd spare a thought for he so young, who played that game and lost.
That fateful day a year ago, from out a cloudless sky.
Today those hops have gone, and where they grow the wheat is gold, stench of rape invades the air and loud tractors roar.
Suburbia reigns where damsons dropped, all is changed... and I grow old, until those hops around the font bring back the child I was, once more.
Cecil Lees's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
Comments about this poem (Hop picking 1941 by Cecil Lees )
The Road Not Taken
If You Forget Me
Still I Rise
Edgar Allan Poe
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
William Ernest Henley
- Trivial Pursuits, Lawrence S. Pertillar
- "These doodles help me...", Jeff Gangwer
- "In a manner of speaking...", Jeff Gangwer
- "Can I just...? ", Jeff Gangwer
- SLEEPING NIGHT, Egbe Chris
- Doorways / Points of Access, Jeff Gangwer
- "...on the hook", Jeff Gangwer
- Pioneers and Parade Floats, Jeff Gangwer
- The Muse, Midnights Voice
- Double Standards, Terry Dawson