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This article is taken from PN Review 217, Volume 40 Number 5, May - June 2014.

Poems from The Land Ballot Fleur Adcock
The Sower

In the beginning was the axe, then fire.
The first instalment happened before they came:
his father had arranged for Mr Daysh
to fell fourteen acres of standing timber,
lop off and burn the smaller branches,
and leave an area ready to be sown.

Sam was working dawn to dusk on the house,
but sowing was a job a boy could do.

Into the velvety ash, once it had cooled,
he walked like an image from the New Testament
broadcasting seed from a sack at his waist
in swathes and arcs and parabolas
to bring forth a fresh green beard:
the potash would turn it into a meadow.

That was the second power he harnessed.
The first was his first horse: haha!

(You’ve seen the photograph: a lad of eleven
in knickerbockers, reins in his hand,
posing aloft for the glass negative;
although this was earlier, at Te Rahu –
some special occasion, else why would his father
be standing beside him in a three-piece suit?)

But what do I know? Only what he told us,
and what Sam wrote in that pocket diary.



The Pioneer

The way the land ballot worked was like this:
if your name came up you might be offered
the block you’d applied for or another,
which you had to take, or you ...


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