We have had a lovely couple of days;warm sun, washing drying on the line – yes, there was a bit of a chilly wind, but we can ignore that! It’s not rained! We’ve had blue sky! The windows are open! More rain and cool weather is forecast, but we’ve had a bit of summer!

I wonder how the farmers have been managing their harvests? As I was reading John Clare’s poem on August in his Shepherd’s calendar, it seemed as if the summers of bygone times were idyllic… maybe they were. The Shepherd’s Calendar was published in 1827 – I don’t know when exactly it was written, probably over quite a period of time, but maybe Clare was thinking of the summer of 1826 which was the hottest on record (until the 1976 summer)

Here is the first part of his verses for August:

Harvest approaches with its bustling day
The wheat tans brown and barley bleaches grey
In yellow garb the oat land intervenes
And tawney glooms the valley thronged with beans
Silent the village grows, wood wandering dreams
Seem not so lovely as its quiet seems
Doors are shut up as on a winters day
And not a child about them lies at play
The dust that winnows neath the breezes feet
Is all that stirs about the silent street
Fancy might think that desert spreading fear
Had whisperd terrors into quiets ear
Or plundering armys past the place had come
And drove the lost inhabitants from home
The fields now claim them where a motley crew
Of old and young their daily tasks pursue
The barleys beard is grey and wheat is brown
And wakens toil betimes to leave the town
The reapers leave their beds before the sun
And gleaners follow when home toils are done
To pick the littered ear the reaper leaves
And glean in open fields among the sheaves

The ruddy child nursed in the lap of care
In toils rude ways to do its little share
Beside its mother poddles oer the land
Sun burnt and stooping with a weary hand
Picking its tiney glean of corn or wheat
While crackling stubbles wound its legs and feet
Full glad it often is to sit awhile
Upon a smooth green baulk to ease its toil
And feign would spend an idle hour to play
With insects strangers to the moiling day
Creeping about each rush and grassy stem

John Clare 1793 –  1864

4 thoughts on “Harvest approaches with its bustling day

  1. There was a village maiden that lived out on the farm. Her Father thought it best for her to keep her far from harm. One day when she was in the woods she met the Vicars son. He said hello my pretty thing. She felt inclined to run.

    Liked by 1 person

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