Saturday, October 20, 2012



Once upon a time when the year had  ripened
The harvest was personal affair
The people tossed the hay up on the hay cart
And all enjoyed the village Harvest Fair.
Maybe these 'harvesters' were not efficient,
They dropped an ear or two along the way,
But nature and humanity were partners.
We do things, now, a very different way.
See the mechanical creature with its great jaws,
Bearing down all all dominant and grand,
Ravenously chewing through the bounty
Leaving a bare and desolated land.
No doubt the productivity's  amazing,
No doubt the farmer cheers  when wheat is sold
But plastic rolls will never equal corn sheaves
And we all mourn the Harvest Homes of old.



The oast houses of Kent, it seems
Pervade my very deepest dreams,
And that is odd because, you see,
They're once-removed, in reality.
My mother spoke of them quite often
And, when she did, her face would soften.
For, as a child, she often went
To holiday in rural Kent,
Away from her home beside the sea
Into country tranquility.
Except that tranquility was lost
When hop-pickers from London dossed
Down on the farms to pick the hops,
One of the area's leading crops.
Her father, a policeman, would keep the order,
Quelling drunkard and marauder.
And the whole family went along,
Relaxing while he righted wrong.
My mother, and her sister too,
Would do what any child would do,
Mixing with the London crowd,
For getting-to-know-you was allowed.
She often would relate to me
How she had loved being wild and free.
She dearly loved hop-picking season,
And, I think, with very good reason.
I sort of imbibed her memory
And now oast houses mean a lot to me.
Often into my mind nostalgia drops,
And I'm with my mother picking hops.
The oast houses were used to dry the hops and the hops were used to make beer.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Kent still a very pleasant place to visit with lots to do and not far from here but people don't go to pick hops any more. The Oust Houses are all still there though. Stayed in one once.