The Land

The land I sprang from
lies fallow now.

Rolling fields where once crops grew -
wheat, oats, and corn, rye and barley,
red clover, alfalfa, lespedeza -
now grow weeds taller than your head,
underbrush, young hackberries and hedgeapples.
Paths have eroded or been invaded by vines.
Fence rows and ditches are blanketed
with alien kudzu or Asian honeysuckle.

Roads that were once gravel
are paved now.
Where do they go?
To other paved roads.

Farmhouses are abandoned,
the doors open to strangers,
windows broken, steps dangerous,
walls and floors bare,
weathered, beginning to decay.

But the hills are still green and glossy,
the creeks clear and sparkling,
the pastures spread with wildfloWers,
blackberry vines rampant,
shade trees here and there.

The wealthy hoard the land
as if it were mitred gold.
One farm I lived on and its neighbor,
where the Lyles lived
with their umpteen kids,
recently sold for a cool $2 million.

On the winding road down the hill
to Shepherd's Branch,
now paved and scenic,
stand here and there
elegant, secluded vacation homes
for the affluent from distant cities,
overseen and tended by the offspring
of the illiterate backwoodsmen
who once lived there in penury.

Where country churches
and one-room schools once stood
rocky clearings have no signs
of their former edifices.
The country store is ramshackle,
a heap of rusty iron and rotting wood.
The mill across the road,
where our wheat and corn
were ground into flour and meal,
is there no more.

And the land -
the land all around,
the land I sprang from -
desecrated, not hallowed,
lies fallow now.

by Frank Avon

Comments (3)

This poem speaks for itself in an epic voice of lament but also pride. Can the LAND itself be said to be proud? Or must there be the country folk who live in a symbiotic wholeness with the land who embody the pride? But the country folk who once lived intimately with the land have been replaced by outsiders who vacation, and the only country folk left are their servants, themselves aliens now to the once sweet land. This is such a tragic vision. I was re-reading Eliot's THE WASTELAND yesterday for no special reason beyond the fact it always speaks to me. Now I can see THE WASTELAND poem of our immediate age is Frank Avon's The Land.
Thank you for your kind comment. Of course, I was writing about a particular place at a particular time, but I hoped the poem might be more nearly universal. You comment suggests that I may have succeeded, at least do a degree. I must admit that I do not know where nileshwar, India, is, but I shall look ip up immediately
The poem represents the social changes as well as the changes of the land and its people a fascinating poem where worldwide these changes are happening.