Harvest at Mynachlog

Harvest at Mynachlog

By Gillian Clarke

At last the women come with baskets,
The older one in flowered apron,
A daisied cloth covering the bread
And dappled china, sweet tea
In a vast can. The women stoop
Spreading their cups in the clover.

The engines stop. A buzzard watches
From the fence. We bury our wounds
In the deep grass: sunburnt shoulders,
Bodies scratched with straw, wrists bruised
From the weight of the bales, blood beating.

For hours the baler has been moulding
Golden bricks from the spread straw,
Spewing them at random in the stubble.
I followed the slow load, heaved each
Hot burden, feeling the sun contained.

And unseen over me a man leaned,
Taking the weight to make the toppling
Load. Then the women came, friendly
And cool as patches of flowers at the far
Field edge, mothy and blurred in the heat.

We are soon recovered and roll over
In the grass to take our tea. We talk
Of other harvests. They remember
How a boy, flying his plane so low
Over the cut fields that his father

Straightened from his work to wave his hat
At the boasting sky, died minutes later
On an English cliff, in such a year
As this, the barns brimming gold.

We are quiet again, holding our cups
In turn for the tilting milk, sad, hearing
The sun roar like a rush of grain
Engulfing all winged things that live
One moment in the eclipsing light.

Summary of Harvest at Mynachlog

  • Popularity of “Harvest at Mynachlog”: “Harvest at Mynachlog” by Gillian Clarke, a famous Welsh poet, playwright, and editor, is a fascinating descriptive poetic piece. It first appeared in her collection in 1978. The poem highlights the plight of the farmers at the time of harvest. It involves various tactile and visual images to capture their hard work as well as troubles they face during that time. The poetic uniqueness of this descriptive piece lies in the fascinating simplicity that pervades every line of the poem.
  • “Harvest at Mynachlog,” As the Representative of Hard work: The poem opens with a lyrical and pastoral scene, where the speaker talks about the farmers arriving at the fields carrying their food baskets and pottery. She adds the engine of the machine is turned off at their arrival and the workers, including the speaker, seem weary while doing this tiring manual work. To add feeling to this poem, she uses words like “wounds”, “sunburn shoulders” and “wrist bruised” to signify the physicality of their work. She adds while doing this laborious work, the workers face fatigue, tiredness, and lifelessness. The poet goes on to say that, on the one hand, the scorching heat of the sun prepares the ground for harvesting, while on the other hand, it adds difficultly to their work. However, during this challenging time, they still find time to have little gossip during the lunch break. At the moment of rest, the tired workers talk about a similar harvest; their conversation shockingly turns to a tragic memory of a boy who once flew over the harvested field and later died tragically in a plane crash. Although the poem runs largely in a calm and bucolic mood, yet the discussion about the boy’s death makes it a bit somber.
  • Major Themes in “Harvest at Mynachlog”: Harvest time, the tiring work of the farmers, and gossips are the major themes of the poem. The speaker, being part of the harvest time, skillfully portrays the demanding work of the people who work in the field and the little escape that brings them both relaxation and joy. Through this simple poem, the writer tries to make people aware of the troubles these people endure while harvesting under a burning sun. Moreover, she also comments on the man’s adaptive nature that he molds himself according to every situation.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Harvest at Mynachlog”

literary devices are specific techniques that bless writers with the ability to add deeper meanings that go beyond what is on the page. Gillian Clarke has used various literary devices in this poem whose analysis is as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ and /o/ in “We are soon recovered and roll over” and the sound of /o/ in “I followed the slow load, heaved each.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/ in “grass: sunburnt shoulders” and /b/ sound in “the barns brimming.”
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /r/ in “The sun roar like a rush of grain” and the sound of /l/ in “Engulfing all winged things that live.”
  4. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

“Straightened from his work to wave his hat
At the boasting sky, died minutes later
On an English cliff, in such a year
As this, the barns brimming gold.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Gillian Clarke has used imagery in the poem such as “We are quiet again, holding our cups,” “In the grass to take our tea. We talk” and “Golden bricks from the spread straw.”
  2. Metaphor: The poem shows the use of harvest season as an extended metaphor to show the challenges people face at that time such as; “The sun roar like a rush of grain” and “From the fence. We bury our wounds.”
  3. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. The poet has personified sun in the poem such as; “The sun roar like a rush of grain.”
  4. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The expressions like “sun roar” symbolizes the severity of the weather while “sunburnt shoulders” symbolize the pain people endure while harvesting.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Harvest at Mynachlog”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: The poem shows descriptive diction having metaphors, symbolism, and impressive images.
  2. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free-verse poem with no strict rhyme or meter.
  3. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here, only the sixth stanza is a quatrain.
  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are seven stanzas in this poem with each comprising different lines.

Quotes to be Used

These lines from “Harvest at Mynachlog” are useful to use while narrating painful past incidents.

The engines stop. A buzzard watches
From the fence. We bury our wounds
In the deep grass: sunburnt shoulders,
Bodies scratched with straw, wrists bruised
From the weight of the bales, blood beating.”

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