Harvest approaches with its bustling day

Harvest approaches with its bustling day,
The wheat tans brown and barley bleaches grey;
In yellow garb the oat-land intervenes
And tawny glooms the valley thronged with beans.
Silent the village grows, wood-wandering dreams
Seem not so lovely as its quiet seems.
Doors are shut up as on a winter's day,
And not a child about them lies at play.
The dust that winnows 'neath the breeze's feet
Is all that stirs about the silent street.
Fancy might think that desert-spreading fear
Had whispered terrors into quiet's ear,
Or plundering armies past the place had come,
And drove the lost inhabitants from home.
The fields now claim them where a motley crew
Of old and young their daily tasks pursue.
The barley's beard is grey and wheat is brown,
And wakens toil betimes to leave the town.
The reapers leave their beds before the sun
And gleaners follow when home toils are done,
To pick the littered ear the reaper leaves,
And glean in open fields among the sheaves.
The ruddy child, nursed in the lap of care,
In toil's rude ways to do its little share,
Beside its mother poddles o'er the land,
Sun-burnt and stooping with a weary hand,
Picking its tiny glean of corn or wheat
While crackling stubbles wound its legs and feet.
Full glad it often is to sit awhile
Upon a smooth green baulk to ease its toil,
And fain would spend an idle hour to play
With insects, strangers to the moiling day,
Creeping about each rush and grassy stem,
And often wishes it was one of them,
In weariness of heart that it might lie
Hid in the grass from the day's burning eye
That raises tender blisters on his skin
Through holes or openings that have lost a pin,
Free from the crackling stubs to toil and glean,
And smiles to think how happy it had been,
Whilst its expecting mother stops to tie
Her handful up, and waiting his supply,
Misses the resting younker from her side;
And shouts of rods and morts of threats beside
Pointing to the grey willows while she tells
His fears shall fetch one if he still rebels,
Picturing harsh truths in its unpractised eye
How they who idle in the harvest lie
Shall well deserving in the winter pine,
Or hunt the hedges with the birds and swine.
In vain he wishes that the rushes' height
Were tall as trees to hide him from her sight.
Leaving his pleasant seat he sighs and rubs
His legs and shows scratched wounds from piercing stubs,
To make excuse for play; but she disdains
His little wounds and smiles while he complains;
And as he stoops adown in troubles sore,
She sees his grief and bids him sob no more,
As by and by, on the next sabbath-day,
She'll give him well-earned pence as well as play,
When he may buy almost without a stint
Sweet candied horehound, cakes, and peppermint,
Or streaking sticks of luscious lollipop,
Whate'er he chooses from the tempting shop
Wi' in whose diamond winder shining lie
Things of all sorts to tempt his eager eye:
Rich sugar-plums in phials shining bright,
In every hue, young fancies to delight,
Coaches and ladies of gilt gingerbread,
And downy plums and apples streaked with red.
Such promises all sorrows soon displace,
And smiles are instant kindled in his face;
Scorning all troubles which he felt before,
He picks the trailing ears, and mourns no more.
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