Digital Tradition Mirror

The Migrant Song or See How the Land Yields Up Her Treasure

The Migrant Song or See How the Land Yields Up Her Treasure
(Peter Krug)

Up from El Centro and San Bernadino
Bakersfield, Fresno, Meder, Merced
Salinas and Stockton, up to Sacramento
Santa Rosa and Red Bluff and on back again
A hundred thousand men, women, and children
They flow on the highways, the old and the young
In an unending cycle of sowing and reaping
The long valley's labor can never be done

  And see how the land yields up her treasures
  To man's patient hand

Up in the morning an hour before dawning
They're stretching and yawning, rubbing sleep from their eyes
With the last stars still quivering in the morning breeze
The sun is just lightening the easternmost skies
Soon in the big open trucks they will travel
Crammed in together, crowded like cattle
Over pavement, over gravel, over dirt roll the wheels
Out to the orchards, the vineyards, the fields

Soon in the long rows the swift hands are toiling
In the day's growing heat, in the dusty rows boiling
The sun presses down like a hot heavy hand
At the backs of the laborers working the land
In the shade of the oak trees by the side of the field rows
Dirty and shoeless the young children play
While fathers and mothers, older sisters and brothers
Toil on their knees in the heat of the day

Down from the highway come men in brown uniforms
Questioning, checking and searching and soon
One or two whose papers are not in order
Are gone from the crew in the hot afternoon
When the sun has descended and the long day is ended
It's back to the trucks wiping sweat from their eyes
Tired and weary and covered all over
With fruit juice and brown dust, with sweat and black flies

When there's crops in the field rows and grapes in the vineyards
When the limbs in the orchards bow down to the ground
There's food on the table, there's clothes for the children
There's singing and dancing and joy all around
But with skies grey as iron and icy winds whistling
And frost in the field and no work to be found
Through cold nights they huddle and hunger and struggle
Till spring brings back sweetness and life to the ground

Copyright Peter Krug
see also Deportees and Pastures of Plenty

Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!

Contents: ? A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Main Page