Fall and Rise of the Serf (Reprise)


A peasant boy lost in the woods
Upon a snowy day
Unseeing fell into a well
Built by Russian peasantry
So extremely long ago
We struggle that far back to see
The life this peasant boy would know
So different from our own would be

In those days every serf was owned
Outright his landlord by
Body and soul alike, condoned
By all — literally
A landlord to his friend
About the labor on his farm
Never need the fact defend
They had no shoes to keep them warm

And if they lift a cry
Their slow starvation to protest
There were many ways to die
At his maleficent behest
Perhaps he’d free the dogs
And make the tenant run instead
Loads of heavy, solid logs
Till he was very nearly dead

Then send him homeward to his wife
Just staggering that haven to
So that he would give up his life
Within her grieving view
Nor had he any recourse
Any more than broken she
He had less value than a horse
Still smaller would her value be

And so our little peasant boy
Of no illusions was possessed
No self-importance did enjoy
With true humility was blessed
And knew himself in God’s great plan
Only as precious as each blade
Of grass hath been since time began
Or any other thing so made

Of miracles: an insect, rainbow, bird or beast
A cloud or flake of snow
There was no “most” nor “least”
This little serf had come to know
Every creation’s preciousness
His innocence held dear
And many which had come to bless
Him lingered but a mere

Moment or two beside him
Then had gone away in death
Plucked far away by unknown whim
Just ceased to draw sweet breath
Indeed, the good and bright
The lovely, tender, sweet and soft
And all which brought the most delight
If anything more oft

Seemed so to be removed
Which made the village women say
That once again it had been proved
No matter how heartfelt we pray
“She was too good to live
And heaven missed her,” they’d declare,
“Could only for a moment give
Such warm sweetness away

God had to call her back
To with the other angels be
He couldn’t stand the lack
Of such benign felicity…”
So life and death were joined
In seamless grace within his mind
And complimentarily coined
Desirably combined

The peasant families he knew
Did deeply love their children, though
It was unfortunately true
And infinitely sad to know
Delicate balance was maintained
Between what food was, helped to grow
By his increasing labor, gained

And what he needed to consume
For there were many mouths to feed
So many sleepers to a room
And something must be saved for seed
After the landlord took most all
Their labor and their little hope
And left their backs against the wall
Unable winter with to cope

This little peasant wandered far
The well marked village pathways from
When dusk began bright skies to mar
He did not know where he had come
And though he’d thought his way to mark
With this and that — a twig, a cone
He could not see them in the dark
And stumbled on his way alone

Through icy drifts disguising
Ground irregularities
Whilst murmuring a blessing
Mentally upon his knees
But when the land gave way
And into the dark hole he fell
He knew it was his final day
Down deep in that dry well

His family would search and call
But he had wandered far afield
His tracks were only very small
The skies more snow would yield
And fill them in a moment
Whilst absorbing all the sound
Which for his list’ing ears was meant
There underneath the ground

He knew he’d never see
Another pleasant afternoon
But in his mind there be
No thought it happened much too soon
Nor in his heart poison regret
For his existence’ brevity
For ’twas in life’s eternal debt
He felt himself to be

For years of birdsong and of sun
Of father’s and of mother’s love
Of work and sleep, heartbreak and fun
Up in the land above
He knew himself only to be
Part of the never ending flow
From birth to death, eternally
All living spirits go

And, he’d been told, up in the sky
Another Father dwelt
Like his own father nearer by
Who great love for him felt
With deep voice and with great strong arms
And an enormous bushy beard
And loving smile a small heart warms
Banishing all that it had feared

Oh, children he’d known plenty
Who had younger gone away
Their households’ air now empty
Of their prattle and their play
He had been granted life more long
Than any of them knew
So didn’t think it sad or wrong
As he increasing chilly grew

Remembering the deaths
Of all the martyrs and the saints
The painful stopping of their breaths
As full surrounding hatred taints
Violent final moments — he
Even from short exper’ience knew
His own fate more benign to be
That freezing creatures only grew

Lethargic, and then sleepy
So peacefully easing out
He didn’t feel all weepy
Never had a moment’s doubt
That soon he’d be content
As in this life he’d never been
That the next moment he was meant
A sweeter lifetime to begin

Plentiful the food to eat
Plentiful the blankets warm
Leathern shoes upon his feet
To keep his toes from harm
A Mother whom but pleasure knew
To satisfy each whim
And big and bold the Father who
Would be so proud of him!

So gazed he upward from his fall
Unto the great stones all around
He did not hurt so much at all
He wore no deep despairing frown
But that same wonder in his eyes
That same expression he had worn
When in the blush of sunrise
He had found, some early morn

A bird singing its heart out
To the slowly light’ning sky
A baby lamb firstly let out
Upon sweet grass, its mother by
The softness of a rabbit’s fur
A carving made his father by
A kitten’s sweet, contented purr
The colors of a butterfly

As he lay rapt in solemn awe
A stone from the encircling wall
Began to tremble, and he saw
It leave its nitche and start to fall
A second took similar flight
And then, following them through all
Not mounds of soil, but streaming light
And sounds of song withall!

And such a lovely light it was
All bright yet rosy was its hue
It launched his soul into delight
Such radiance to view
And in that light, around the well
Incorporeal beings were
Who knew him and who loved him well
It warmed him like a fur

And they were singing — such a song
As he had never heard
Welcome for which his heart had long
Its preference deferred
No words nor melody it had
But grander than an organ rang
About the awestruck little lad
For whom the hov’ring angels sang

Not e’en his little sister, seeing
Him come to her with some new toy
Had sounded such ecstatic paen
Her voice so full of joy
Or laughter been as fully glad
As was poured forth the angels by
And it was now our peasant lad
At last began to cry

Though these were tears not of despair
But rather humble ecstasy
That such a soul as his could bear
Any worthiness to be
Accorded such effusion
Such an awesome symphony
Leaving no more confusion
In the tiniest degree

Oh, they were glad to have him back
And more than glad! So thankful for
The chance to remedy his lack
Among them closely, as before
His sojourn among mortal men
Amidst the shadows of the day
Humanity’s limited ken
Mortality, illusion’s play

Then as he, trembling, wiped his eyes
A further wonder came to be
He felt his spirit start to rise
He could the well’s near entrance see
Above him, coming closer, and
Still closer till at last he found
Bright stars and moonlight near at hand
His soul floating above the ground

And then he realized: If such
As he, in life who’d been
Without importance overmuch
To any but his closest kin
Received such welcome, it was sure
That every single consciousness
However small or humble were
Destined by such song to be blesst

As they emerge from the cocoon
Which wraps them in existence’ play! …
He floated there beneath the moon
Before proceeding on his way
And felt his heart expand by each
And every Beingness
Which will at end of living reach
Reward for its duress

A better, warmer, brighter fate
Than by mere words can e’er be told
Than any gospel may relate
Waiting for every single soul
Without exception! Then with heart
Absolutely full and whole
Prepared now fully to depart
He let the light enfold his soul


The poet/editor of this website is physically disabled, and lives at a fraction of her nation’s poverty level. Contributions may be made at:


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