Gardener's Muse on Hoeing

by John Updike

I sometimes fear the younger generation
will be deprived of the pleasures of hoeing;
there is no knowing
how many souls have been formed by this
simple exercise.

The dry earth like a great scab breaks,
revealing moist-dark loam --
the pea-root's home,
a fertile wound perpetually healing.

How neatly the great weeds go under!
The blade chops the earth new.
Ignorant the wise boy who
has never rendered thus the world fecunder.

Yesterday morning, I hoed my other vegetable garden, the one loaned to me by my former neighbor. It was cool for the last day of June and the skies were overcast, so I barely broke a sweat.

I was reminded again that there is great satisfaction in hoeing down a row and then turning around to see the results. Weed-free, freshly chopped earth. It really is a simple exercise and one I recommend for any gardener.

As you can see from the picture of the garden above, the beans are coming along nicely since we got some rain. There are lots of flowers, which hopefully means lots of beans. The sweet corn will truly be just "knee high by the fourth of July". I don' t hold out great hope for an ear of corn from this garden, but I'm certainly going to let the corn grow and see what happens.

And every week to ten days, I'll stop by and get out the old hoe that goes with this garden and watch "how neatly the green weeds go under".

To see other posts with garden poetry today, go to Sweet Home and Garden Chicago where Carolyn Gail is hosting Garden Bloggers' Muse Day.


  1. That was so lovely, Carol. Thank you for participating in Garden Bloggers' Muse Day.

  2. Carol, I love this post. I have enjoyed your blog so much. I have tagged you for a game -- come to my blog for directions to the rules if you want to play.

  3. dagnab it, I posted that comment before I finished the link info.

  4. Good Morning, Carol- great post is right!
    Our vegetable garden is so small that I seldom use a long-handled hoe, crouching near ground level with the Cape Cod weeder instead, but your poem is inspiring me to put on a straw hat and stand tall! [just hope the trifocals will let me tell where the weed ends and the pepper plant begins.]

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  5. An excellent poem. Updike has such an outstanding way of expressing himself. A fine selection.

    I agree that hoeing can be very relaxing. The new garden is coming alon nicely.


  6. Carol - this is lovely! I love that you love hoeing. Nice work.

  7. I have found that using a long handled hoe is the absolutely best exercise for toning the back muscles-and then one looks great wearing a low back dress.

  8. Carol: Makes you think doesn't it? Hoeing may be a lost art and it is so satisfying! Job well done!

  9. All... thanks for the nice comments. I hope everyone has a chance to hoe sometime soon. It's fun, good exercise, and a productive use of time!

  10. I am completely embarrassed to admit that while I have been gardening for nearly 20 years, I have never hoed. Ever. It just never occurred to me to do it. But I think I might try, especially after seeing the neighbor make quick work of a weedy bed with a scuffle hoe. I gotta get me one of those. ~A :-)


Post a Comment

Comments are to a blog what flowers are to a garden. Sow your thoughts here and may all your comments multiply as blooms in your garden.

Though there is never enough time to respond to each comment individually these days, please know that I do read and love each one and will try to reciprocate on your blog.

By the way, if you are leaving a comment just so you can include a link to your business site, the garden fairies will find it and compost it!