Wednesday, May 08, 2013


The Shepherd

A.C. Benson (1862-1925), "The Shepherd":
The shepherd is an ancient man,
      His back is bent, his foot is slow;
Although the heavens he doth not scan,
            He scents what winds shall blow.

His face is like the pippin, grown
      Red ripe, in frosty suns that shone;
'Tis hard and wrinkled, as a stone
            The rains have rained upon.

When tempests sweep the dripping plain,
      He stands unmoved beneath the hedge,
And sees the columns of the rain,
            The storm-cloud's shattered edge.

When frosts among the misty farms
      Make crisp the surface of the loam,
He shivering claps his creaking arms,
            But would not sit at home.

Short speech he hath for man and beast;
      Some fifty words are all his store.
Why should his language be increased?
            He hath no need for more.

There is no change he doth desire,
      Of far-off lands he hath not heard;
Beside his wife, before the fire,
            He sits, and speaks no word.

He holds no converse with his kind,
      On birds and beasts his mind is bent;
He knows the thoughts that stir their mind,
            Love, hunger, hate, content.

Of kings and wars he doth not hear.
      He tells the seasons that have been
By stricken oaks and hunted deer,
            And strange fowl he has seen.

In Church, some muttering he doth make,
      Well-pleased when hymns harmonious rise;
He doth not strive to overtake
            The hurrying litanies.

He hears the music of the wind,
      His prayer is brief, and scant his creed;
The shadow, and what lurks behind,
            He doth not greatly heed.

Joseph Farquharson (1846-1935),
Herding Sheep in a Winter Landscape

Related post: Merry It Is and Quiet.

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