The Old Jug

This England - - News - LES­LEY PAR­DOE

Its grey print smudged and set askew It held no less the har­vest brew. This old straight-sided har­vest jug With cracked curved lip and dented han­dle In dec­o­rated glory stood Upon the farmer’s har­vest ta­ble.

The milk­maid with her but­ter churn And labourer in his broad-brimmed hat Stand either side their tools of toil, The sickle, shears, the plough and pail.

Wo­ven wreaths of oats and wheat Around the rim in gar­lands flow, Pro­claim the pur­pose of the jug Sup­ported by the verse be­low.

The last grain stored, lit by the moon, They stacked and thatched the crack­ling straw Against the win­ter com­ing soon. The stub­ble damped by au­tumn’s shroud, With aching backs, com­plain­ing knees, They drank the ale from off its lees And next day har­nessed up and ploughed.

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