Tuesday, 10 January 2012

God Spede the Plow

                                                            a rough cut for Plough Monday

God spede the plow
and send us ale-corn enow
our purpose for to mak at crow of cok
of the plow-lete at Sygate.
Be merry and glad
Wat Goodale this work mad...

First furrow cut into the field
cleave the earth, gouge out the ground
strike straight course from point to point
and turn the year around

Exhume our bodies
unearth our bones
harvest the stones from our mouths and eyes
and listen to the song they sing -

Remember us poor plough boys
a-ploughing we must go
whether it's rain, blow, hail or snow,
a-ploughing we must go,
a-ploughing we must go...

Plough Monday is the first Monday after the feast of the Epiphany, and signifies a return to normality after the excesses of Christmas-time. The beginning of this poem is taken from a carving in the gallery of St. Agnes' church in Cawston, a village ten miles to the north of Norwich. The church is medieval, and was built on the back of the barley (or ale-corn) trade, hence the pun in the last line of the verse. The plow-lete is the ploughmen's guild, which was to meet at dawn at Sygate, an area just to the north of the village.

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