Sunday, September 16, 2012

We Field-Women - Thomas Hardy

Below is the poem We Field-Women by Thomas Hardy. The original manuscript for this poem is held by Reading Uninversity.

For a detailed discussion of this poem and it's relationship to the text of Tess of the d'Uberrvilles see this link ...

We Field-Women

How it rained
When we went to Flintcomb-Ash,
And could not stand upon the hill
Trimming Swedes for the slicing-mill.
Wet washed through us – plash, plash, plash:
How it rained!

How it snowed
When we crossed from Flintcomb-Ash
To the Wheat Barn for drawing reed,
Since we could nowise chop a swede.
Flakes in each doorway casement-sash:
How it snowed!

How it shone
When we went from Flintcomb-Ash
To start at dairywork once more
In the laughing meads, with cows threescore,
And pails, songs, love – too rash:
How it shone!

Thomas Hardy

Three very simple six line stanzas with rhyming scheme abccba. Repetition of first line of each stanza with the last stanza line - a short and dominant line defining the background to the content of work in the fields - rain/snow/sun. These defining lines pervade the in-between lines - soak into the very being of that text.

Weather, environment and work defining life for those that worked in the rural conditions of the mid ninteenth century (see the above wedsite for details on how Tess was involved in the rural work of her time as defined by Hardy's novel).

If you feel so inclined and enjoy playing with words you could try choosing three different 'atmospheres' for the three stanzas and then filling in according to the rhyme template abccba, for example -
                                 how we worked ... /how we ate ... /how we slept

... this only involves creating 12 lines of text ... of course, you could extend to 4 stanzas and include extra dimensions eg winter/spring/summer/autumn - or equally reduce to two and follow back/white contrasting backgrounds.

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