April 17, 2012

"The Proud Farmer," by Vachel Lindsay

Yesterday I interviewed a wonderful elderly gentleman about his engineering work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  He developed a way to compost sludge (see dewatered sewage) on an industrial scale.  We moderns, so disconnected from our roots, take so much for granted ~ where we get our food, where our waste goes.  We act as if we are unconnected from those very necessary jobs.  Today, I wanted to hail the hero and heroine, the not-so-common men, the hard-working sacrificing women, in some small way.  What better way than the Prairie Troubador, Vachel Lindsay.

The Gleaners, by Jean-Francois Millet

The Proud Farmer

by Vachel Lindsay

Into the acres of the newborn state
He poured his strength, and plowed his ancient name,
And, when the traders followed him, he stood
Towering above their furtive souls and tame.

That brow without a stain, that fearless eye
Oft left the passing stranger wondering
To find such knighthood in the sprawling land,
To see a democrat well-nigh a king.

He lived with liberal hand, with guests from far,
With talk and joke and fellowship to spare, —
Watching the wide world's life from sun to sun,
Lining his walls with books from everywhere.
He read by night, he built his world by day.
The farm and house of God to him were one.
For forty years he preached and plowed and wrought —
A statesman in the fields, who bent to none.

His plowmen-neighbors were as lords to him.
His was an ironside, democratic pride.
He served a rigid Christ, but served him well —
And, for a lifetime, saved the countryside.

Here lie the dead, who gave the church their best
Under his fiery preaching of the word.
They sleep with him beneath the ragged grass...
The village withers, by his voice unstirred.

And tho' his tribe be scattered to the wind
From the Atlantic to the China sea,
Yet do they think of that bright lamp he burned
Of family worth and proud integrity.

And many a sturdy grandchild hears his name
In reverence spoken, till he feels akin
To all the lion-eyed who built the world —
And lion-dreams begin to burn within.

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