Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Haunted Reaping
By Leyland Huckfield
 
OUT we go in the dusk of morn
  Over the hills to the reaping.
Our sickles crash on the golden corn
  When the rest of earth is sleeping.
Bending and bowing, bending and bowing,        5
  Gathering in and striking free,
Gripping the sheaf with the sickle and knee
  And laying it down for the tying.
 
The dim, dark hills are all around,
  The silence breeds a sullen dread,        10
Our sickle strokes like shrieks resound
  In chambers of the murdered dead.
But one dull star stays overhead,
  The waning moon seems all awry.
The dying night is loth to die        15
  Though in the east the mists are red.
 
Over the stubble chill winds creep
  Like breaths from a dead world blowing,
God! it is awesome so to reap
  With such strange fancies growing.        20
Bending and bowing, bending and bowing,
  Gathering in and striking free,
Gripping the sheaf with sickle and knee,
  And laying it down for the tying.
 
My father reaps six feet before        25
  With hairy arms as hard as steel.
I hear the corn as oft of yore
  Before his whirling sickle reel;
And, God, what wild, mad horrors steal!—
  Bidding me take too long a stride,        30
And drive my sickle in his side,
  And grind his face beneath my heel.
 
I dread this brooding, awful morn
  With its haunted hush dismaying—
It seems as though pale souls newborn        35
  Our curved wet blades were slaying.
Bending and bowing, bending and bowing,
  Gathering in and striking free,
Gripping the sheaf with the sickle and knee
  And laying it down for the tying.        40
 
My father’s beard is grizzled gray—
  It trails like mist in heavy wind.
He was three-score yesterday,
  And yet I reap six feet behind.
Lean he is, and bent, and lined,        45
  And he has held me many years;
And still I toil in hate and tears,
  And still he swears that he is kind.
 
Ah, God, will morning never break?
  I know he is old and loving,        50
Yet I hear with every stroke I make
  A demon with me moving;
Bending and bowing, bending and bowing,
  Gathering in and striking free,
Gripping the sheaf with sickle and knee        55
  And laying it down for the tying.
 
At last! The morning comes at last:
  The hills are rich with filtered gold,
And through the vales a glory vast
  In glowing might is swiftly rolled.        60
And hard my father’s hand I hold,
  And, standing ’midst the gleaming corn,
With him thank Heaven for the morn—
  With lips that still are gray and cold!
 
 
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