THE PLOUGH

by Will H. Ogilvie

 

From Egypt behind my oxen with their stately step and slow

Northward and East and West I went to the desert sand and the snow;

Down through the centuries one by one, turning the clod to the shower,

Till thereís never a land beneath the sun but has blossomed behind my power.

 

I slid through the sodden ricefields with my grunting hump-backed steers,

I turned the Tiber plain in Romeís Imperial years;

I was left in the half-drawn furrow when Cincinatus came

Giving his farm for the Forumís stir to save his nationsís name.

 

Over the seas to the North I went; white cliffs and a seaboard blue;

And my path was glad in the English grass as my stout red Devons drew:

My path was glad in the English grass, for behind me rippled and curled

The corn that was life to the sailor men that sailed the ships of the world.

 

And later I went to the North again, and day by day drew down

A little more of the purple hills to join to my kingdom brown;

And the whaups wheeled out to the moorland, but the grey gulls stayed with me

Where the Clydesdales drummed the marching song with their feathered feet on the lea.

 

Then the new lands called me Westward; and I found on the prairies wide

A toil to my stoutest daring and a foe to test my pride;

But I stooped my strength to the stiff black loam, and I found my labour sweet

As I loosened the soil that was trampled firm by a million buffaloesí feet.

 

Then further away to the Northward; outward and outward still

[But idle I crossed the Rockies, for there no plough could till!]

Till I won to the plains unending, and there on the edge of the snow

I ribbed them the fenceless wheatfields, and taught them to reap and sow.

 

The sun of the Southland called me; I turned her the rich brown lines

Where her Parramatta peach-trees grow and her green Mildura vines;

I drove her cattle before me, her dust, and her dying sheep,

I painted her rich plains golden and taught her to sow and reap.

 

From Egypt behind my oxen with stately step and slow

I have carried your weightiest burden, ye toilers that reap and sow!

I am the Ruler, the King, and I hold the world in fee:

Sword upon sword may ring, but the triumph shall rest with ME!

 

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