Grain by Mabel Forrest

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There was yellow grain on Shinar's plain
Before the brown floods swirled about the Ark,
And like a dancing rainbow in the tide
Went down the hoarding vase of polychrome
Which, in the layers of the centuries' mud,
Wise men found fecund with its store of grain,
Bearing for them a page of history --
Grain that was reaped with sickles made of stone,
Where listless, dark-eyed women ground the corn,
Pouring a bright stream from the pottery jar
Into the grinding stone, and pondering
The luck of some swart lover in the chase.

The wealth of Antioch grew from the tolls
On camel trains that, down Orontes way,
Labored to bring the bales of amber wheat,
Linen and ore and painted porcelain cups
And lapis lazuli, and limestone slabs
Whereon was traced a chariot with wheels
Brushing aside a field of ripening corn.

When pastoral peoples drifted from the heights,
And as grain growers settled in the vales,
To beat out copper knives and shares and spears,
From these first settlers rose the harvest dream,
The lush-green paddy-fields where blue canes feed,
The rye upon the Afghanistan hills,
The oats in Wiltshire, and the barley gurs
Paid to their slaves by Babylonian kings;
Wild barley running over Turkestan,
And what in Persia, or in burial-chests
Of Egypt, packed in alabaster urns,
For when the Nile was swamp the sowers came
With pear-shaped mace-heads, wavy-handled pots
They had brought with them out of Palestine
To shimmering visions of a fruitful land.

Wheat on the Darling Downs, like sheets of silk,
A rustling company in Lincoln green
With listening ears turned to December winds;
Corn slowly mellowing through drowsy hours
And barley bright as dragons in the grass.
And tall white silos, sentinels of the plain,
And dusty barns where shadow trips the sun
Through lofty windows, or the hum of scythes
Singing in English counties. Grain on grain,
The history of Man is written here --
Man rising from the mud of a morass
To concrete highways: sickles made of stone,
To the swift smoothness of machinery;
And nature working just the same old way,
With sap and shower to find the grain for bread!

First published in The Bulletin, 14 January 1931

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 14, 2014 6:54 AM.

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