On a recent morning, near a Victorian country town, the dead body of an ancient ploughman was found lying across his plough in a paddock which he had commenced to prepare for seed. The old man had died suddenly from heart trouble.
He has fallen in the furrow. Rest his soul .... So stands the picture of a life made whole -- A life of labor, meeting here its end Fitly, serenely, greeting death as friend. Oh, one would like to think: So is all life And friendly death, calling an end to strife; Swift, compensating death, whose gentle hand Now lays him quietly on this sweet land. The brown earth gleaming where the long rows run; The kind earth quickened by the heartening sun Of all his three-score summers, glowing, warm; A broken furrow; and a quiet form -- Such is the picture -- where this sleeper lies -- The tale of human hope and enterprise; Man's only story, sculptured in this loam; The end of striving, and a soul called home. The broad fields spreading where the birds, a-wing, Still make of life a restless, joyous thing, While lusty fledglings clamor from the nest, And here, beside his plough, one finds his rest. Beside his plough he rests who, early, late, Strove manfully to drive the furrow straight, Till he became at last what all men must: Dust; here returning to its fellow dust. Loud paeans have been sung for heroes slain Where lusting war makes and with tortures vain; Yet here no paean lifts; but from this sod A hymn of peace goes quietly to God. He has fallen in the furrow. Rest his soul, And send it, haply, to its long-sought goal, Thrice happy mortal, toiling his full span To find an end that so befits a man.
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|Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002-04|