And on a similar bent, at least, about the possible futures/pasts, I have been waxing lyrical about harvest, as the combines chug up and down outside my back garden. And it made me search out this poem by Edwin Muir, about the one-day return of the horse, machines abandoned.
Barely a twelvemonth after
The seven days war that put the world to sleep,
Late in the evening the strange horses came.
By then we had made our covenant with silence,
But in the first few days it was so still
We listened to our breathing and were afraid.
On the second day
The radios failed; we turned the knobs ; no answer.
On the third day a warship passed us, heading north,
Dead bodies piled on the deck. On the sixth day
A plane plunged over us into the sea. Thereafter,
Nothing. the radios dumb;
And still they stand in our kitchens,
And stand, perhaps, turned on, in a million rooms
All over the world. But now if they should speak,
If on a sudden they should speak again,
If on the stroke of noon a voice should speak,
We would not listen, we would not let it bring
That old bad world that swallowed its' children quick
at one great gulp. We would not have it again.
Sometimes we think of the nations lying asleep
Curled blindly in its' impenetrable sorrow
And the thought confounds us with its' strangeness.
The Tractors lie about our fields; at evening
they look like dank sea monsters couched and waiting.
We leave them where they are and let them rust;
"They'll moulder away and be like other loam"
We make oxen drag our rusty plough
Long laid aside. We have gone back
Far past our fathers land.
And then, that evening
Late in the Summer the strange horses came.
We heard a distant tapping on the road,
A deepening drumming, it stopped, went on again
And at the corner changed to hollow thunder.
We saw the heads
Like a wild wave charging and were afraid.
We had sold our horses in our fathers time
To buy new tractors. Now they were strange to us
As fabulous steeds set on an ancient shield
Or illustrations in a book of knights.
We did not dare go near them. Yet, they waited,
Stubborn and shy, as if they had been sent
By an old command to find our whereabouts
And that long lost archaic companionship.
In the first moments we had never a thought
that they were creatures to be owned and used.
Among them were some half dozen colts
Dropped in some wilderness of the broken world,
Yet new as if they had come from their own Eden.
Since then, they have pulled our ploughs and bourne our loads,
But that free servitude still can pierce our hearts.
Our life is changed, their coming our beginning.
I just cry at this. It says more than I can, you get it.