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Threshing Time

by Charles Edson

I.
There's dew on the stubble and fog in the air,
And a red eye peeps over the hill,
And a white flag of steam, flaring up with a scream,
Has awakened the dull, drowsing doves from their dream
On the aged, gray granary sill.
And through dew on the grasses and fog in the air,
The throng of the threshers is gathering there.
With toiling and tugging, and lifting and lugging,
They belt the steam engine that's wheezing and chugging—
And pitchforks are gleaming and laborers laugh,
Preparing to hurry the wheat from the chaff.

The smoke and the vapor float over the trees,
And a stamping horse rattles a chain;
And men with red handkerchiefs looped at their throats
Are climbing the mountains of barley and oats,
The beautiful Alps of the gram.
The smoke and the vapor floats over the trees,
And the sun now has routed the fog on the breeze,
While creaking and turning and slapping and churning,
The belted red thresher has lisped out its yearning—
Has mumbled its hunger in mournfulest note,
And the first sheaf is ground in its ravenous throat.

II.
"Look out, fellers. Let 'er go!
Pitch them first few bundles slow.
Hold on son, don't gash my hands
When you're cuttin' off them bands.
Wheat's a-spilling. Hey, you Jack!
Run that cussed wagon back!
Grab a wheel, Bill, help him there.
We ain't got no wheat to spare.
Wheat's too high now, I'll be bound,
To thresh and throw it on the ground.
Belts off now! And I just said
You boys would get her over-fed.
You mustn't try to rush her through;
The straw's still tough and damp with dew.
When the sun gets two hours high
You will find it's plenty dry.
All right, let 'er go again;
Now we're threshin' out the grain.
See how plump them berries is.
That's the stuff that does the biz.
That there wheat's from college seed
Of selected Turkey breed;
The land was fall plowed just as soon—
All right, boy, she s blowed for noon.
Ease her down and hold her steady,
Women folks says grub is ready."

III.
Now the thirsty sun swings lower on his torrid path to earth,
And the yellow straw is piling toward the sky.
Say, a feller learns at threshin what a drink of water's worth,
For it tastes as sweet as cider when you're dry.

At last the sun is setting, just a crimson ball of fire,
And a coolness all the atmosphere pervades;
The stalwart feeder's dusty arms at last begin to tire,
And the last sheaf passes downward through the blades.

Now the whistle's long drawn wailing is a song of seraphim,
And the stars light up in heaven's purple deep;
And the smoking and the joking, how it rests the weary limb
Ere bedtime ushers in the perfect sleep.

IV.
The day is over,
The world is fed.
And the farmer sleeps
On his feather bed.