Photo by Sarah Prag
Below the hill, where buzzards glide,
All alone the stone barn lies,
And people walking care not why
The barn’s alone and still.
The barn has seen splendid times
When masons made her walls with lime,
To garner grain to grind
From fields upon the hill.
Men and boys and wagons wheeled
Hauled the sheaves from nearby fields,
And thrashed the crop between tall doors
The produce of the hill.
Across the floor, the wind’s cool draught
From heavy grain lifted chaff
That floated on the sunlit shafts,
Until the barn was filled.
Now the fields around the barn,
Too steep and small for growing corn
Grow grass for cows on valley farm
And sheep across the hill.
The waving wheat no longer yields
Head heavy sheaves from stubble fields,
Hauled on wooden wagon wheels,
That creaked across the hill.
So empty now the barn it lies,,
No more the flails and shovels fly.
The old slates slip, and slowly slide
To rest upon the hill.
On the beams step pairs of doves,
Cooing, keening, making love,
As if they, to the barn, must prove
There’s still life on the hill.
But Fortune’s wheel turns around
And better uses must be found
Than lying empty ‘mongst the sounds
Of nature on the hill.
Builders come with latest tools,
Installing bunks and showers and loos,
For the convenience of those who choose,
To walk upon the hill.
To breathe the air and drink the view,
Philosophise and be improved,
Above the valley’s buzz and hue
And venerate the hill.
So the barn that’s watched the country age
Now finds itself at centre stage,
So young and old henceforth engage
In the story of the hill.