Monday, November 9, 2009


There is an old man who tends a large garden not very far from my house. I pass by often and see him there, just sitting alone in the midst of his vegetables, quiet, still. I always presume he is contemplating the world and its mysteries, but maybe he’s just escaping a chattering wife.
He has placed a homemade scarecrow in the center of the bounty, a scarecrow well crafted, who dons a new outfit each Spring. By the apparent dearth of crows over the garden, the fellow does his job quite well.
I have always loved the idea of scarecrows. How marvelous if we ourselves could but station a figure outside our front door, a chap perfectly crafted to fit our uniqueness, whose only mission in life was to ward away that which would bring us trouble. We could tailor his garments to suit our own needs, each snippet of clothing holding significance for us alone. A magic red scarf to banish depression, an enchanted blue waistcoat to turn away grief. Illness would spot the striped bowtie and flee, anger would see the tweed trousers and fly.
What a smooth life we could fashion for ourselves.


The Scarecrow

All winter through I bow my head
beneath the driving rain;
the North Wind powders me with snow
and blows me black again;
at midnight 'neath a maze of stars
I flame with glittering rime,
and stand above the stubble, stiff
as mail at morning-prime.
But when that child called Spring, and all
his host of children come,
scattering their buds and dew upon
these acres of my home,
some rapture in my rags awakes;
I lift void eyes and scan
the sky for crows, those ravening foes,
of my strange master, Man.
I watch him striding lank behind
his clashing team, and know
soon will the wheat swish body high
where once lay a sterile snow;
soon I shall gaze across a sea
of sun-begotten grain,
which my unflinching watch hath sealed
for harvest once again.

by Walter de la Mare