Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In concert from Rochester: “The Farmer’s Song” & six other poems April 1, 2017


IT IS MY PLEASURE to present to you a video that includes “The Farmer’s Song,” my poem performed last weekend at two concerts in Rochester.

Click here to listen to a Choral Song Cycle by David Kassler on Texts of Minnesota Poets. I read my poem at about 39 minutes followed by a Chamber Choir singing “The Farmer’s Song” with cellist and pianist accompaniment. This concert was held at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

To Rochester composer David Kassler and to all of the musicians, thank you for this gift of an artsong. Fueled by your musical passions and talents, you took my poem and crafted a moving tribute to the Minnesota farmer I remember. To share my rural roots in this way has been a truly joyful experience. And to be in the company of six other gifted poets was also an honor.

Thank you.

The Farmer’s Song

Out of rote he follows the path from house to barn,
from barn to shed, steel-toed boots beating a rhythm
upon the earth, into this land which claims his soul.

He reaches for the paint-chipped handle,
his grease-stained fingers connecting with worn metal
like hammer to nail in the movements of his day.

Farming defines the lyrics of his life written upon hands
that have measured yields, directed tractors, pitched manure,
stroked calves, performed seasons of backbreaking labor.

Inside the shed, as he latches wrench to bolt,
he ponders the final verses of his years, the songs he’ll sing
when age frays his memory, grips his hands in a hallelujah chorus.


FYI:  If you are a choral conductor interested in having this music performed by your ensemble. please contact David Kassler. He will work with you. Like Kassler, I would love to see these artsongs reach an even broader audience.

Click here to read my initial blog post about the concert.

A special thank you also to Park Rapids-based The Jackpine Writer’s Bloc for originally publishing “The Farmer’s Song” in the anthology In Retrospect, The Talking Stick, Volume 22.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


18 Responses to “In concert from Rochester: “The Farmer’s Song” & six other poems”

  1. Wãshē Kōdä Says:

    Good for You 🙂

  2. DeLores Johnson Says:

    I am so happy I was able to see this concert, Audrey. It was beautiful!
    Thank you for sending the video. You are so talented and I feel honored to know you. Your family must be very proud of you….

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    What a wonderful honor!

  4. Linda Rhode Says:

    Audrey What a beautiful poem and such a wonderful way to honor you with the way they performed it! It is such a pleasure to know you and to share your gifts that you so willingly share will all of us! Thank you and God bless you in all of your future endeavors of creativity. Linda

  5. Dorothy Says:

    What great honor for you. Proud of you!

  6. Beth Ann Says:

    How wonderful to hear your words and to see you and Randy as well. Thanks for sharing. I almost missed it!

  7. Don Says:

    Audrey, great poem and a great honor to add to your achievements, you done good!

  8. Sue Ready Says:

    Oh my,Audrey this was such a wonderful lyrical tribute to your carefully chosen words. The voices were so melodious singing a prairie song of a working farmer. This event as I said before to me is the pinnacle of your poetry writing to receive such affirmation.

  9. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Congratulations! I can’t wait to click that link and listen to it.

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