I love the parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:1-23 and the parallel passage in Luke 8:4-15. It is one of the few parables which is fully explained by Jesus to His disciples. And it is a parable that enumerates all possible human responses to the Word of God. Here is Jesus’ explanation of the parable in Matthew:
Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
This poem is just a verse paraphrase of the story in this parable: iambic heptameter (x/x/x/x/x/x/x/), form ABAB. It might make more sense to read the poem story first, and then to read the Scriptural explanation above . . .
Kingdom of Heaven: Sower, Seed, Soil
That cloudy morning, rain in forecast, mist upon the ground
I strapped my seed-bag on and headed for the topmost field.
There, at the edge, between the paddock, path, and rocky mound
I flung the grain by handfuls, hoping for an ample yield.
My arm described the perfect arc, augmented by the seed;
And stepping backward I observed the kernels fall to earth
I trod beside the border, stepping over stone and weed,
Ensuring that each corner of my field received its worth.
The blackbirds trailed my backward steps; they searched the hardened lane
For seeds the breeze or careless toss had scattered as I sowed.
The other seeds were lodged secure in softer soil’s terrain,
But these were easy pickings for those grackles on the road.
The wayside seeds were lost, a waste, plucked up as soon as sown.
They never had the chance to put down roots, to come alive.
I tried to shut them from my mind; it wouldn’t help to moan
For what was gone; I’d concentrate on grain that would survive.
And so I watched, the next few days, as tiny blades emerged.
Across the misty field, a sheen of emerald appeared
From loamy soil, and suddenly the hope within me surged.
The crop was up; my anxious expectation disappeared.
But soon, around the edges, in the coming weeks I saw
A browning, as initial growth was stunted and then quit.
I scrutinized the weakened plants to find the fatal flaw,
And noticed that each shriveled stalk had grown in rocky grit.
At first, it hadn’t mattered, for the rains had freed the germ,
The shoots had sprouted quickly, made an effort to mature,
But then their roots were hampered by the rocks beneath, so firm
And, without source, they withered and could simply not endure.
I cut my losses, certain that the crop that still remained
Would yield a decent payment for my labor and my care.
But then, alarmed, I watched as day by day the thistles gained
And strangled healthy stalks of grain that grew close to their snare.
Another failure, sad to see the struggle of each stem
As one by one they buckled to their thorny, weedy foe.
Their vibrant life now choked out by those masters of mayhem:
Aggressive suffocators of the crop I’d tried to grow.
A full moon later I returned to check the field, subdued.
I figured all was lost, and only came to verify.
The thistles, finished, pocked the topmost paddock that I viewed,
But now the transformation that had happened caught my eye.
For where the seed had fallen, not on wayside,but good soil,
Where neither thorn nor stone had tainted healthy, fertile ground,
Oh, there the crop stood perfect, whole, and yielding for my toil
A gain of thirty, sixty, and a hundred on each crown.
The roadside loss to crows, the rocky, barren, dried-up shoots,
The stifling thistles that had crowded out the struggling grain,
All this I put behind me for the joy of labor’s fruits
Now waving tall and ripe for harvest, sower’s greatest gain.