So now we have come again to the day of our bi-weekly poetry challenge. The task this time around was to write a poem beginning with Edgar Allan Poe’s line “Many and many a year ago.”
Many and many a year ago
a hungry man went creeping
and found through grief the brilliant orchards of the lands
of the rains.
Always and ever the sowers sow
who reaps is always reaping
and the crystalline and sparkling juice their hands
Give me, saith the man.
Pick your own, they answered merrily.
Straight to the nearest tree he ran:
I die of joy, verily!
So long the rains had plowed the dust
that the ancient plows were rust;
the sowers and reapers, rank by rank,
entered the walls at evening, and sank
in familial heaps and sang and drank:
Nor fruit spoiled; no person stank:
the fruit was pure and could not be abused;
whatever was picked was used.
My people will never come this far,
at dawn the willing weeper mused.
We called but they refused,
said one whose beard glimmered like a star –
wild, white, a beard like a mane
flying with wind and curling in rain;
oh, a peaceful face and a stern, sweet eye –
but the beard like lightning struck the sky.
Ah, dear lord! the sigh went round
and the man from the dustlands shook with the sound.
A song went echoing over the lake
and a light from his heart shone gold for the sake
of the song, and of him to whom the song was sung.
But remembered famine troubled his rest
though a child’s hand curled on his chest,
and a woman’s hair across his arm was flung.
Back to the dustland I cannot go
that I came from many a year ago;
back down the mountains that creeping I came
never again will I suffer the same:
a man is not couth who leaves better for worse
and the dustland’s blessing is worse than the rainland’s curse.
The star-bearded man led him over the fields;
they spoke of rains, and percentage of yeilds;
they climbed the foothills; the sun fell low;
they stood on a crag with the dustlands below.
Here is your perch, said the man with the beard.
Do you remember the song that you heard?
Aye, lord, never can I forget!
Then sing, till the sun has set.