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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Harvesters
By Aleardo Aleardi (1812–1878)
 
From ‘Monte Circello’

WHAT time in summer, sad with so much light,
The sun beats ceaselessly upon the fields;
The harvesters, as famine urges them,
Draw hitherward in thousands, and they wear
The look of those that dolorously go        5
In exile, and already their brown eyes
Are heavy with the poison of the air.
Here never note of amorous bird consoles
Their drooping hearts; here never the gay songs
Of their Abruzzi sound to gladden these        10
Pathetic hands. But taciturn they toil,
Reaping the harvests for their unknown lords;
And when the weary labor is performed,
Taciturn they retire; and not till then
Their bagpipes crown the joys of the return,        15
Swelling the heart with their familiar strain.
Alas! not all return, for there is one
That dying in the furrow sits, and seeks
With his last look some faithful kinsman out,
To give his life’s wage, that he carry it        20
Unto his trembling mother, with the last
Words of her son that comes no more. And dying,
Deserted and alone, far off he hears
His comrades going, with their pipes in time,
Joyfully measuring their homeward steps.        25
And when in after years an orphan comes
To reap the harvest here, and feels his blade
Go quivering through the swaths of falling grain,
He weeps and thinks—haply these heavy stalks
Ripened on his unburied father’s bones.        30
 
 
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