Week 19: The Sheaf, by Andrew Young

The Sheaf

I’d often seen before
That sheaf of corn hung from the bough –
Strange in a wood a sheaf of corn
Though by the winds half torn
And thrashed by rain to empty straw.
And then to-day I saw
A small pink twitching snout
And eyes like black beads sewn in fur
Peep from a hole in doubt,
And heard on dry leaves go tat-tat
The stiff tail of the other rat.
And now as the short day grows dim
And here and there farms in the dark
Turn to a spark,
I on my stumbling way think how
With indistinguishable limb
And tight tail round each other’s head
They’ll make tonight one ball in bed,
Those long-tailed lovers who have come
To share the pheasants’ harvest-home.

Andrew Young

Many of Andrew Young’s best poems work, as here, by a sudden shift of perception, an epiphany of the commonplace that goes beyond mere trickery to achieve a kind of grace in all senses of the word. Despite certain personal reservations about rats, I have to love the tenderness of the last two lines!

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