Chillington Hoe Edwin Markham Painting Poetry

Chillington Hoe

So much exciting news – it is hard to know where to start – so how about with my new ancient digging tool, my Chillington Hoe!

Chillington Heavy Duty Hoe
Chillington Heavy Duty Hoe. Photo from

It slices through the mat of bramble and nettle roots which cover my archaeological dig site with relative ease. So it is perfect for dealing with the regrowth that will inevitably happen following the initial clearnace work. Cutting back the top growth will result in everything bouncing straight back again – unless I make good use of my Chillington Hoe.

I had never used them before – though I have often seen them on television used by subsistence farmers/ gardeners in Africa. I can now thoroughly recommend them. They were probably second only to the digging stick in the historical development of agricultural tools ( They have variously been called Azadas, Badzas, Grape Hoe, Eye Hoe, Jembe, Mamooty, Mattock or Adze ( The Chillington Tool Company has a history of over a hundred years of being the biggest manufacturer of such tools in the UK – hence their name in English.

Further research on the Internet produced Millet’s picture of “The Man With the Hoe”.

Millet, Jean-Francois ‘Man with a Hoe’ c.1861; Wikimedia Commons.


This inspired the American poet, Edwin Markham, to write his most famous poem:

The Man with a Hoe
Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back, the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes,
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?
Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave
To have dominion over sea and land;
To trace the stars and search the heavens for power;
To feel the passion of Eternity?
Is this the dream He dreamed who shaped the suns
And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?
Down all the caverns of Hell to their last gulf
There is no shape more terrible than this–
More tongued with cries against the world’s blind greed–
More filled with signs and portents for the soul–
More packed with danger to the universe.
What gulfs between him and the seraphim!
Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him
Are Plato and the swing of the Pleiades?
What the long reaches of the peaks of song,
The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose?
Through this dread shape the suffering ages look;
Time’s tragedy is in that aching stoop;
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed,
Plundered, profaned and disinherited,
Cries protest to the Powers that made the world,
A protest that is also prophecy.
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
Is this the handiwork you give to God,
This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched?
How will you ever straighten up this shape;
Touch it again with immortality;
Give back the upward looking and the light;
Rebuild in it the music and the dream;
Make right the immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
How will the future reckon with this Man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake all shores?
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings–
With those who shaped him to the thing he is–
When this dumb Terror shall rise to judge the world,
After the silence of the centuries?

I found this on Wolfram’s WorldLand Hoe! Personal reflections on the subject of returning dignity to hoes and men.

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