The song of the scythe

The stone stroked the scythe creating a plaintive tune

As the cutting edge was smoothed into sharpness.

The first strokes were bold and vertical in arc

With the scythe held over the left shoulder;

The last few were smooth and precise

While the blade lay along the forearm.

The edge was tested by a lateral movement of the thumb

And judged to be good by an acquired skill,

Where sensation and knowledge need no conscious thought.


The mower turned towards the distant sea,

With the dark green sward on his right

And the rows of cut grass in parallel patterns on his left.

The stubble between the rows was pale from lack of sun

With two narrow lines of trampled grass where his feet had passed.

Above him was the blue sky of August and on his back the heat of the sun.

About him was the hum of bees.

Nearby a nervous corncrake harshly sang her relentless summer song,

While the surf drummed a low and urgent rhythm at the very edge of hearing.


He swung the blade through the brittle stems

And filled the air with the perfume of cut grass.

The scythe sang its way through its rhythmic task

With a balance which required no direction or force.

The man, the field, the grass, the blade, the sky,

The bees, the birds, the waves, the wind, the world,

All joined to sing a song to farming skills;

A song of bone and sinew, nerve and muscle,

Of sound and smell and touch and earth and air.


Comments about this page

  • This is excellent Michael. Well done.
    Reminisent of Helaire Bellock in ‘The Mowing of a Field.’

    By Noelene Beckett Crowe (10/11/2021)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.