Oil painting by Don Hutchinson
Medal awarded for a lifetime’s toil
The Labourer on his sick bed lay, with heavy heart so worn,
Result of all the ground ploughed and cutting of the corn;
A wife showing all life’s strains, stood by him on that morn,
In the abode allowed to them, where offspring had been born.
“O Annie dear what shall I do? No longer can I toil;
I’ve done it all, tended beasts and worked the Master’s soil.
Everything that was asked of me, from no task did I recoil,
Hardship and foulest weather, did not me deter or foil”.
“The Master must recall all the things that I have done;
How I dug the ditches deep; from the Bull I saved his son.
This ailment truly vexes me, to no longer work or run;
The Physician he has warned, all labour I must shun”.
“Lying here I heard the hoof and harness’s hollow ring;
I knew from the beat and jangle, the Master it did bring.
He wished me well and called to say, I’m needed in the spring,
And says he if I’m not ready then, another he will bring”.
“This house is his he reminded me, to do with as he will;
Reserved for the one in his employ, who his broad acres till.
If I return to yoke and rein, he’ll see we stay here still,
Otherwise another must steer the plough and cut the drill”.
“With his chilling presence gone, I’ve bravely fought the tear;
My life displayed before me o’er each bygone year;
Deep the sadness now upon me, but sooth I have no fear,
Reflecting all that’s gone before as to future now I peer”.
“Dearest wife we must go, despite endeavours of the past;
A faithful servant I have been, but fate our dice has cast;
Servitude is owed no debt and good health does not last;
Our children are our blessing; a worthy wealth and vast”.
Monty Alexander 2.1.98