The Fallow Field


The Fallow Field

Good to see the ploughed earth!
Here in a world of broken faith
Is something to be understood;
Man’s work, Man’s worth,
The labour of the share, the scope
Of our belief, our hope.

Here is something Man has made
And will remake, age after age,
Defying every tyrant’s rage
With a simple thing – the spade.

Take a handful, feel it rough,
Feel it work upon your skin!
This is the elemental stuff
From whose obduracy we win
First things first, the bud, the flower,
And last, the Bread of Life,
These things are good.
These are the moments worth our strife.
Leave the tyrant to his hour:
He has never understood.

Richard Church (1941)

h/t TLS

7 comments on “The Fallow Field

  1. beeholdn says:

    Have reblogged this on WordVerseUniverse.


  2. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, my strong point in school was never poetry but some how you seem to find poems that draw me into thought. Maybe it’s just that being …. of a mature age …. has changed my thinking. I still struggle with the meaning so help me out here. If I understand this poem correctly, it’s about the soil and the connection that man (mankind) should have with the soil. The working of the soil with close contact by touching and using a spade and then watching cultivated soil sprout a bud, flower, and harvest.

    When I first bought Terra Nova Gardens, I cleaned off all debris and rocks. I hired it plowed and smoothed out with a disk. Does any one still use a disk? After that first time I have not plowed the soil but instead deep mulched the ground to smother the weeds. I’m not quite up to full harvest mode but have divided the 60 X 60 foot garden into four squares and will probably leave one 30 X 30 square fallow each year with mulching compost applied during the year. For me, I’ve found that old carpet laid out overlapping will kill all weeds and grass if left on the area for one year. I have many new ideas of unconventional growing for this next season.

    Have a great fallow field day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Yes I see the poet celebrating the beauty and joy of tending the earth. He is setting it up against the rage of tyrants (consider when he wrote this). It can be boiled down to “Good to see the plowed earth!…This is the elemental stuff…These things are good.”

      I use a disk sometimes, but rarely. These days I break the land with a spring harrow (we call it a jitterbug) then till it with a rotary tiller that works off my tractor’s PTO. I want to move to methods like those you are using and we’re doing that with our raised beds but I’m still disturbing the soil a lot in the rest of our gardens.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. shoreacres says:

    It’s always amused me, how many people think “nothing” is happening when fields (or lives, or projects, or relationships) are lying fallow. Fallow isn’t non-productive; it’s recovering from past production and preparing for what’s to come. Roughly speaking, of course. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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