The Ploughman

We present this work in honor of Western Australia Day.

Patrick White
1912 – 1990


I saw a ploughman against the sky,
The wind of the sea in his horses’ manes,
And the share it was shod with gold;
Down to the sea, on the curve of the hill.
A foam of gulls in the furrow.
The ploughman walking behind his plough.
I heard the cry of the wave in the throats of the gulls,
Far off cry like the voice from a shell,
Yet beating down on me out of the trees,
Out of the net of the leafless trees.
I watched the ploughman stooping behind his plough.
As if Tune crouched on his shoulders there on the hill;
As if he had ploughed all yesterday, when the ships
Sailed fleecy into the harbour down below;
As if he had ploughed all the day before
When men were bright with steel in the valley.
With steel as bright as a winter sky
When the sun ebbs under the rim of the sea;
Ploughing, ploughing, ploughing the bones of
the centuries into the earth:
All pain yielded up in the sigh of the gulls;
Sorrow hid beneath poppy and dock,
To be soothed by the tremulous flame of the corn in spring.
The ploughman was singing, yet wordless his song,
For words are forgotten while thrushes’ notes linger
And music of water is graven in stone.
All is forgotten: the tramping of soldiers;
And proud white list of the clippers from China;
Only the ploughman remains as he follows
The plumed and glistening path of his furrow
Over the field that is strown with gulls.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.