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Poppies on the Wheat by Helen Hunt Jackson | Poets.Org

Poppies on the Wheat
by Helen Hunt Jackson

Along Ancona's hills the shimmering heat,

A tropic tide of air with ebb and flow

Bathes all the fields of wheat until they glow

Like flashing seas of green, which toss and beat

Around the vines. The poppies lithe and fleet

Seem running, fiery torchmen, to and fro

To mark the shore.

 

The farmer does not know

That they are there. He walks with heavy feet,

Counting the bread and wine by autumn's gain,

But I,--I smile to think that days remain

Perhaps to me in which, though bread be sweet

No more, and red wine warm my blood in vain,

I shall be glad remembering how the fleet,

Lithe poppies ran like torchmen with the wheat.

 

About This Poem

In her travel writing, Jackson gives a further glimpse of the Italian vistas that seem to have inspired this poem: "Then began a royal progress through a garden; all the way to Ancona, four hours, nothing but wheat-fields and vineyards; in the wheat-fields, scarlet poppies and purple foxglove, and bright blue something, I don't know what, but as we dashed by it looked like bachelor's-buttons flying off in the air."

 

Helen Hunt Jackson was born Helen Fiske in Amherst, Massachusetts, on October 15, 1830. She was not only a noted writer, but also a tireless advocate on behalf of the improved treatment of Native Americans in the United States. Jackson died in 1885.

 

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