The Gaffer at a Harvest Festival


Hev ye avar been to Ballacorris
In the chapel down the lane,
When the winders are all stuffed with marras,
An’ the aisles are full of grain?
An’ thear’s flowers as big as dinner plates,
An’ grapes an’ spuds an’ apples an’ dates,
An’ tomaters an’ eggs, an’ straw on the sates?
Navar? Well, man, ye’ve seen nawthin’ yet;
It’s the sight ye can navar forget.
I don’t keer if ye’ve been to the States
An’ seen Niagara or Arizona
Or all of them skyscrapers—
They’re only childer’s capers
To all the mountains of fruit and vegetables,
An’ fish big enough to swallow Jonah,
Canyons of sheaves of corn,
Cascades of honeysuckles and vines
That sprout an’ foam an’ sprawl
Over the pillars an’ pews an’ tables,
Over the steps an’ up the wall;
An’ cactus dahlias lek pink porcupines
Invadin’ the pulpit an’ seemin’ to grapple
With the pr’acher himself,
As if he was a pot on a shelf.
My, ye’ve navar been born
If ye hevn’t been in a lil chapel
When the harves’ is on!

My, it’s worth goin’ if only to see
Oul’ Betsy Corjaig in her thingummyjee,
All sprigged out in fathers an’ laces
As if she was off to the T.T. races
Or off on a spree to fancy places.
An theer’s young Isobel Mary Corteen
Who’s hopin’ that folks think she looks lek the Queen,
With a hat jus’ lek a chrysanthemum
An’ thinkin’ of boys an’ chewin’ her gum.
It’s strange to see the Sunda suits
The well brushed hair an’ the polished boots
Of the men who’ve been workin’ an’ toilin’ an’ slavin’
Amongst the sheaves an’ amongst the roots,
An’ now all jesh an’ quiet behavin’.

“This is God’s holy day;
Theer isn’ no sense
In waitin’ any longer for more,
’Cos I’m thinkin’ they won’t gerrin at the dhoor;
So let us commence
With hymn nine sixty four,
‘To thee, O Lord, our hearts we raise
In hymns of adoration’”.
Then later on after a thanksgivin’ prayer
An’ the folks hev had time for a good all-roun’ stare
They’ll stan’ up to sing another oul’ hymn
Which tells how the corn is safely got in
Before all the winter storms’ll begin;
An’ Tommy Mylchress’ will be thinkin’, it’s lek,
Of the fiel’s still to gather
’Fore the break in the w’ather,
Seein’ he works for his father
Who can’t manage at all, bein’ right in a fix
An’ hev’n to go roun’ houlin’ on to two sticks,
Bein’ plagued thallure with roomatix.

Then at las’ when the preacher has said “Amen!”
An’ the collection is tuk
An’ he’s shut the oul Book,
They all gather again
Outside on the grass,
An’ talk an chatter
An’ chatter an’ talk
About thinks that matter,
Some chewin’ a stalk,
An’ some hevin’ a walk.
Theer’s others jus’ leanin’ over a gate
An’ gazin’ on fiel’s that up to late
Were full to the hedges of deep livin’ gool,
All whisperin’ an’ rustlin’ lek childer at school,
But now lek the school when the childer hev gorn
The fiel’s is all empty an’ sad an’ forlorn,
An’ the only gool showin’ now the reapin’ is done
Is in the long rays of the westerin’ sun.

Aw, man don’t forget
Theer’s a mystery yet
In the lil quiet places
Wheer the life is the same
As it was long ago;
An’ theer’s earth,
An’ theer’s breath,
An’ theer’s birth,
An’ theer’s death;
An’ life’s more than a game
Or days at the races.
An’ progress is growth, not a flight to the moon,
An’ each moment of livin’ is a heaven-sent boon.