Publishing family history | Writing creative nonfiction
THE SOUL OF THE LAND
- 1901 -
And so the tillers of the soil and merchants came,
Men, women and children intent on having their way with the land.
And the land lay like a virgin waiting to be possessed,
Rich in promise and of unproven worth.
Then came drought, pestilence, and government,
Dreams shattered like glass falling on rock.
And still the migrants came intent on a better life.
Where was the soul of the land?
- 1903 -
Creatures walked the land while iron turned the soil,
And the residue of eons past kissed by wind and fire vanished.
Plants and animals disappeared as though they had never been,
And the land was forever changed.
Seeds foreign to the land were thrust into it,
And crops grew in abundance.
The tillers of the land were pleased,
The land was good, but did it have a conscience?
- 1917 -
Then, a great war and sickness befell the world,
And there was great sadness among those who walked the land.
SOUL IN VERSE
Death was everywhere and like the residue of the crops in the field,
So were the dead returned to the soil.
And the land scarred by war felt no pain for those who died,
Nor did it care for those who lived.
The soil consumed all without knowing the difference,
And breathed new life into the world.
- 1919 -
As though in mourning there came a time of little snow or rain,
And wind and drought held the land in a vise-like grip.
The land lay dormant while plants of the hills and fields died,
And those who worked the land looked to the canals for water.
There were no dams, and the rivers ran dry,
And that year the soil gave back little that was planted.
While the land slept the tillers of the soil prayed,
And the land lay unforgiving without a conscience.
- 1920 -
After a season like a bear awakening from a winter sleep,
First snow and then rain nudged the slumbering soil.
And the tillers of the soil again planted and watched the sky,
The rivers flowed and the land sprang back to life.
It was a time of hope,
But those who depended upon the land were shaken.
The land had no conscience,
Did the land have a soul?
- 1920 -
In a time of bountiful harvests a great depression befell the world,
And hunger spread as men walked the streets of despair.
Cries of anguish awoke a sleeping government,
And there began a great movement to restore the dignity of man.
The land shared not the pain of those who left it,
Nor did it care for those who stayed.
The land’s omnipotent power answers to no one,
and yet it’s vigor and beauty resides within the soul of man.
- 1930 -
Men of the world die with dreams of owning the land,
But the land cares naught for what he holds.
The measure of a man is often judged by what he owns,
And those who till the land often love it as a woman.
But the land is a capricious, uncaring mistress,
And man is powerless when all they do to please brings no return.
Then like crops in a drought, man withers and dies,
And the land without a conscience, without a soul, lives forever.