Image by John Lesnie

The Dancing Ploughmen

M. K. Joseph


The Dancing Ploughmen

M. K. Joseph


The Dancing Ploughmen

The Dancing Ploughmen

Ring of stars in sky turns
Above the piper on the hill
Twelve common clodhopping clowns
About him swing their reel.

One tilts back a foreshortened face
And gazes upwards in a trance
Towards the ring of stars that trace
Upon his eye their ritual dance.

The circling clowns upon the hill
Behold the wheeling fires of space
And moving at an equal pace
See them stand still.

And yet more giddy grows the dance
The dancers separate and sprawl
And lying prostrate on the grass
Stare upwards at the starry wheel.


‘The Dancing Ploughmen’, from Inscription on a Paper Dart: Selected Poems 1945-1972 (Auckland University Press; Oxford University Press, 1974), © M K Joseph 1974, used by permission of Charles Joseph for the Joseph Family Trust. Recording from the Waiata New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 1974.

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