So dry the Corn was carried from the Field,
So easily 'twill Thresh, so well 'twill Yield;
Sure large Day's Work I well may hope for now;
Come, strip, and try, let's see what you can do.
Divested of our Cloaths, with Flail in Hand,
At a just Distance, Front to Front we stand;
At first the Threshall's gently swung, to prove,
Whether with just Exactness it will move:
That once secure, more quick we whirl them round,
From the strong Planks our Crab-Tree Staves rebound,
And echoing Barns return the rattling Sound.
Now in the Air our knotty Weapons fly;
And now with equal Force descend from high:
Down one, one up, so well they keep the Time,
The Cyclops Hammers could not truer chime...
Saturday, 26 March 2011
The Thresher's Labour
My picture is based on Van Gogh's 'The Thresher' (after Millet) painted in Saint-Rémy in 1889. A copy of a copy which loses something in the 'translation', My picture looks more like the Grim Reaper than a farmyard thresher. But maybe that ambiguity contains a glimmer of truth...
It is a strongly biblical image, suggesting the last days and the final judgement - the seperation of Wheat and Tares - of good and evil. It becomes a metaphor for the inevitablity of judgement and punishment of wickedness.
The Thresher's Labour a poem by Stephen Duck (1730) interestingly he later became a Rector in Byfleet so maybe he is not just describing an everyday farmyard scene, but something bigger, grander and more ultimate....
lines 27-41 of the poem are quoted below (the only ones I could find online):
Stephen Duck was apparently a vicar in Knaphill who came to a tragic end - drowned himslef in a canal. Jonathan Swift wrote a satirical verse -a quibbl - about him On Stephen Duck, the Thresher, and Favourite Poet. A Quibbl