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After the Day’s Work—ca. 1863

Fall 2008 - Vol. 50, No. 4

after the painting by Jean-François Millet

A high full moon now dominates the scene,
White with reflected sunlight whose pale
Silhouette figures looming as they move,
Gone down a path back home through
Chailly Plain.

The man sits sideways on the old lead mare,
Her blindered eyes following gorsesplotched
A rope he holds pulling the younger horse,
A plough-team blurred in nightfall's yellowbrowns.

Across the flat expanse of rock and shrub,
Walking by a rickety cottage fence,
A widow brings late gleanings to her sons
Whose father's, like this worker's, day is

The peasant, grave and ancient, simply
In telling resignation far away
Not toward the dwelling-place his tired
beasts seek
But one beyond this realm of moon and

David Middleton

[Author's Note: These verses remember Mark Royden Winchell both as a biographer and as a

reviewer of my book The Habitual Peacefulness of Gruchy: Poems After Pictures by Jean-François Millet (LSU Press, 2005).]