Poem introduction

In this poem, a farmhand is coming off the land at the end of the day, reflecting on whether they have done enough. It's written for someone who, at the time of writing, was leaving work due to ill health.

The Fielder

The Fielder

The day is late, later than the sun.
He tastes the dusk of things and eases down,
and feels the shade set in across the yard.
He never thought there'd be so much undone,
so much in need of planing: the haugh unmown
with its fist of bracken, the splinting of the cattle bar,
the half-attended paddock wall
scribbled with blackthorn and broke-wool.

Perhaps he could have turned the plough for one last till,
be sure, or surer, of where the seedling fell.
But then it's not the ply that counts, but the depth of furrow,
knowing the take was deep and real, knowing the change was made.
And field by field the brown hills harvest yellow.
And few of us will touch the landscape in that way.

from Ground Water (Bloodaxe, 2004), © Matthew Hollis 2004, used by permission of the author and Bloodaxe Books.

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2The Orchard Underwater


4The Fielder

5The Small Rain Down Can Rain

6The River Drivers


8Winter Break

9'not even the leaves'

10Skin Contact

11In you more than you


13The Sour House


15It Rains During the Night


17And let us say



20Two Kinds


22Here Are Some Words



25Making a Killing

26One Man Went to Mow

27Our Father

28The Wash

27Passing Place

30The Stoneman