The Leasing of The Top Paddock – NaPoWriMo 2017, day twenty two – prompt: georgic poem

The Leasing of The Top Paddock


There was always the kitchen garden.

but there was more than that;

Father leased the paddock,

that later we learned was never

in the full, small farm title. I remember

the farmer, from whom he supposedly,

purchased it, a man whose greater acres

and investments put him in good position.

He was kindly, never showed resentment

at the few extra shillings my father

managed to earn.


Not leasing the land he fairly owned,

Father ploughed it, and set his children

to planting and weeding and harvesting.

He rotated his crops and sold them

to small local outlets.


One year we picked and bagged peas,

the next potatoes, and then

there were onions. For many years

Father kept those georgic furrows tilled.


When he’d begun it was for cows

and the milking; the rich cream

collected for the butter factory.

And the side products, little piglets

who slobbered the full troughs of fresh

raw milk and the toss-outs. Whose

organic hocks were, by Father, made

into home-smoked bacon when later

slaughtered. It was all georgic,

all organic. Guinea pigs, as pets

came to the milking sheds, squeaking

and irritating the herd. They, sad little

creatures, died out in their own directions.

They just slowly disappeared.


There was a kitchen garden.

There was a leased paddock,

There were crops.


Now there’s a big storage shed

and yards. The small holding

merged back to the kindly farmer’s

descendants; their huge acres given

over to wheat. We complain

at genetic engineering. I think

the kindly farmer might also

have had concerns. That never

happened when Father leased

out his paddock. It was all georgic.

It was organic back then.

Benita H. Kape © 22.4.2017

Last but not least, here is our prompt for the day (optional, as always). In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to challenge you to write a georgic. The original georgic poem was written by Virgil, and while it was ostensibly a practical and instructional guide regarding agricultural concerns, it also offers political commentary on the use of land in the wake of war. The georgic was revived by British poets in the eighteenth century, when the use of land was changing both due to the increased use of enlightenment farming techniques and due to political realignments such as the union of England, Scotland, and Wales.

Your Georgic could be a simple set of instructions on how to grow or care for something, but it could also incorporate larger themes as to how land should be used (or not used), or for what purposes.


Mataraki (Pleiades) NaMoWriPo -2015 – Day Two

Early Easter morn, not a cloud in the sky.

Bright moon with your gathering of stars.

This is Paenga-whawha, eleventh lunar month

of the Maori year. After the sun gets up

people will bend in the fields, bend following

the night when Whanui (Vega), in our sky appears.

Kumara (sweet potato) crops will be piled to the side of the rows.

The Mata paheru (Priest) then, who will give the rites over

the first kumara lifted. The digging will begin when the sun

is well up. But when, as the sun reaches its zenith, the mornings’

diggings will be taken to the store-pit.

In the store-pit two people will stack the kumara. They

must have good eyes and examine each kumara carefully

for flaws. Nothing must contaminate the years’ store.

I have stood in awe at the edges of ancient rua (store-pits)

dug to take crops for several hundreds and some say three

thousand people of this tribe and more. And I look up for

Whanui knowing I will not see such a star in daylight hours.

With the puka (soft decayed suitable wood) dried, crumbled,

and spread for the safe keeping of our kumara we await the

twelfth month when Matariki (Pleiades) appears come June.

The once hidden histories will be explored and celebrated.

Again it will be a joyous time. Our Maori New Year moving

as it does on the ancient knowledge of stars.

Benita H. Kape © 3.4.2015


Acknowledgement:  I wish to acknowledge Astronomy NZ

for much of the information in this poem.