(4 November 1872 - 1934 / Scotia, Lake Erie, Ontario)

The Ploughman

Friend, mark these muscles; mine's a frame
Born, grown, and fitted for the toil.
My father, tiller of the soil,
Bequeathed them to me with my name.

Fear work? Nay, many times and oft
Upon my brow the sweat-bead stands,
And these two brown and sinewy hands,
Methinks, were never white or soft.

I earn my bread and know its worth,
Through days that chill and days that warm,
I wrest it with my strong right arm
From out the bosom of the earth.

The moneyed man may boast his wealth,
The high-born boast his pedigree,
But greater far, it seems to me,
My heritage of brawn and health.

My sinews strong, my sturdy frame,
My independence free and bold-
Mine is the richest dower, I hold,
And ploughman is a noble name.

Nor think me all uncouth and rough,
For, as I turn the furrows o'er,
Far clearer than the threshing-floor
I see the tender growing stuff.

A lab'rer, I, the long day through;
The lonely stretch of field and wood
Seem pleasant things to me, and good;
The river sings, the heaven's blue

Bends down so near the sun-crowned hill-
Thank God, I have the eyes to see
The beauty and the majesty
Of Nature, and the heart to thrill

At crimson sunset, dawn's soft flush,
The fields of gold that stretch afar,
The glimmer of the first pale star
That heralds in the evening's hush.

They lie who say that labor makes
A brute thing, an insensate clod,
Of man, the masterpiece of God;
They lie who say that labor takes

All from us save the lust of pelf,
Dulls eye, and ear, and soul, and mind,
For no man need be deaf or blind
Unless he wills it so himself.

This life I live's a goodly thing-
My soul keeps tune to one glad song
The while I turn the furrows long-
A ploughman happy as a king.

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