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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 9 (December 1, 1938)

[section]

Smallholder.
Who fences in a farm we deem
His acres held inviolate;
And builds a steading beam by beam
Has home and living consecrate.
Yes, consecrate by all the vows
Ambition, young, commands at whim;
Inviolate as man allows
And God ordains to humour him.
With axe and fire he carves a place,
With post and wire he marks it in
While Time, too germinal for grace
Is urgent in him to begin.
His cows are sired toward a herd,
His ewes are lambed unto a flock,
And hope aroused or hope deferred
Springs from the sale-yard price of stock.
The stumping done, his plough is set
In ups and downs of fearful toil,
And pride that comes or shrugged regret
Is blamed on season, pest or soil.
Comes grass or hay, lucerne or roots,
Come cheques for butterfat or wool,
Twice mortgaged, in those calloused boots
There stands no ordinary fool.
No fool is he whose wares take ship
In rattling can or swollen bale,
Whose craft return with Factory slip
Or Bank slip in the Rural Mail.
And wife he has (dear God, these wives
Are more than wives!) to share his lot
In pastures green while many lives
Break blossom in their garden plot.
Her hands are young as yours, in truth;
They gave their velvet to receive
The cornland mark and etch of Ruth
Twixt candle-morn and lamp-lit eve.
She shall grow old while you grow old,
But not in your proportioned ease,
For vital forces here shall mould
Life's meaning on her, and God please.
Epitome of work! No day
Whereon they neither toil nor spin;
Arrayed not as the lilies—say,
Are hills enrobed in grass not kin?
Then night comes down: a sheer duress
Of sleep o'er-burdens flesh and soul
While music speaks, but weariness
Now robs them of the life made whole.
To-morrow's wan cold winter blight,
To-morrow's dust and summer glow,
To-morrow's wax and wane, its night
Must find these twain with work to show.
These are a Country's noble strength,
Descendents these of Abraham;
Forswear them not, because, at length:
“Where soil is delved,” cries God, “I Am.”