In this poem, I explore another of Jesus’ parables from the book of Matthew: the Tares among the Wheat.
The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:24-30)
When the disciples wondered the meaning of the parable, Jesus explained it: He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:37-43)
I think it is interesting that tares (also called darnel, or false wheat) look so similar to wheat until the harvest. But they are inherently different. Darnel produces a small black seed that is quite poisonous to humans. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolium_temulentum) Wheat, on the other hand, is the staff of life. Yet they grow together.
“Kingdom of Heaven: Tares Among the Wheat” is written iambic heptameter: x/x/x/x/x/x/x/, form AABB.
Kingdom of Heaven: Tares Among the Wheat
We watched with satisfaction as the first green sprouts appeared.
And waited, so expectant, for each stalk of grain, each beard.
The seed we’d sown, so perfect, incorruptible, pristine,
Would doubtless yield the finest field our crew had ever seen.
But time went on and, as our crop grew, each of us could see,
Between maturing heads of grain, a slight discrepancy.
For where the wheat bowed down with fruit, so nourishing and fine,
Another crop stood tall beside, malignant by design.
“An enemy hath done this,” so the householder declared
When, crestfallen, we told him that his field had not been spared.
The evil one had come at night, while we were still asleep,
And quickly sown his mischief, undetectable and deep.
We hadn’t noticed anything at first; it all looked green,
But now those upright poison tares had marred the perfect scene.
We wondered, “ Should we pluck them out and try to fix the field?”
“Not yet,” he told us, “lest you root up wheat that’s not revealed.
“Just let them both stay side by side, together in the ground
Until the harvest; then make sure the noxious tares are bound
And saved in piles for burning; then and only then we’ll mow;
We’ll bind and thresh and store and save the finest seed to sow.”
Our crew obeyed the householder’s command when harvest came.
And now, we noticed, tares and wheat looked not at all the same.
The tares were black, so obvious, once harvest had begun–
But all the wheat was golden-white and shining like the sun.