Good Ground: A Sonnet on the Parable of the Sower

Van Gogh The Sower 1888

Van Gogh The Sower 1888

As many churches celebrate a Harvest Festival in these next few weeks I thought I would offer some poetry for the season. Some churches may like to use my little sequence celebrating the days of creation Seven Whole Days, but as the parable of the sower in Matthew Chapter 13 is so often set at harvest tide and is taken up in harvest hymns I thought I would also offer the sonnet I have written about that parable for my forthcoming sequence of poems Parable and Paradox, which will come out with Canterbury Press next year. Please feel free to make use of this or my other poetry in churches, and if you wish, to include it in church bulletins, just put a line to say ‘used with permission of the poet’ and, if there is space, put a link to this site. Thanks. This sonnet came to me very simply and swiftly like a song being sung, and so I have divided the sonnet form up into three four line verses, with the couplet at the end, which could itself be a kind of chorus, if anyone feels like singing it.

As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button.

 Matthew 13: 1-9

And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Good Ground

I love your simple story of the sower,

With all its close attention to the soil,

Its movement from the knowledge to the knower,

Its take on the tenacity of toil.


I feel the fall of seed a sower scatters,

So equally available to all,

Your story takes me straight to all that matters,

Yet understands the reasons why I fall.


Oh deepen me where I am thin and shallow,

Uproot in me the thistle and the thorn,

Keep far from me that swiftly snatching shadow,

That seizes on your seed to mock and scorn.


O break me open, Jesus, set me free,

Then find and keep your own good ground in me.




Filed under christianity, Poems

21 responses to “Good Ground: A Sonnet on the Parable of the Sower

  1. Using the couplet as a chorus this goes well to ‘Finlandia’.

    • malcolmguite

      Excellent suggestion thank you

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks so much for seeing this David, I think it really works, though I think for singing it, I would change the 4th line to read ‘And All the long tenacity of toil’, otherwise the tune makes one put a bic emphasis on the word ‘the’. otherwise the tune fits it perfectly – well spotted!

  2. Maralyn Benay

    Wonderful sonnet! I will use it as a prayer I think. Thank you. This one touched me deeply although I love all you sonnets, this one is special.

    Rev. Maralyn Benay Deacon Edmonton diocese, Alberta

    Sent from my iPad


  3. I love the personal spiritual nature of your poems – this is another cracker! Shall post it on my blog for tomorrow (with due acknowledgement as always).

  4. Love it Malcolm. Maybe Steve Bell will take it on! 🙂
    Diana xo


    Thanks and have a blessed and encouraging Sunday. Richard

    Sent from Windows Mail


    Hi Malcolm

    I’m now at Canterbury diocese, and we’re putting together a Lent course.

    I found your lent book very helpful last year, and we’re wondering if you would be prepared for us to link to some of your poems for the response times? We’d also like to be able to print them for leaders who are less tech savvy.

    How would you feel about this? Would we need to pay a royalty, or would an attribution and link be adequate?

    Best wishes


    Sent from Windows Mail

  7. Gillian Riviere

    It’s lovely to hear it read, it makes a beautiful prayer.

  8. Theresa

    I really like this poem and would like to have a 4th grader read it at Mass. Our school is hosting 2 other Catholic elementary schools for Mass on Wed. Jan.30. The Gospel of the Day is Mark 4: 1-20. We will be celebrating Catholic Schools Week. There will be around 300 students in grades K-8, their teachers, and a few parishioners in attendance. I won’t be printing the poem, other than for the student who is reading it. I would like your permission to have the student read your poem. She would cite you as the poet. Thank You.

  9. Chris Kirk

    A prayerful, personal poem that invites a response. Would you mind if we printed it in our church bulletin this Sunday, with acknowledgement? Our Scripture is the Parable of the Sower. THANKS

    • malcolmguite

      Yes that’s fine. Just say it’s from Parable and Paradox Canterbury Press and is printed with the poet’s permission

  10. Jill Ross

    Jill Ross
    I would love to read your poem at our lent meeting on Thursday 14th March our reading is the parable of the sower would that be alright.

  11. Nikki Macdonald

    Hi Malcolm – lovely piece, thank you. I’m wondering if you’d permit me to put it to images with background music as part of our online worship this coming Sunday – with due attribution, of course – a slide of the book at the end, perhaps, as well?

    • malcolmguite

      Yes that’s absolutely fine

      • Thank you so much, Malcolm
        Here’s what I ended up doing – very simple, but I think it works. Not quite sure why my reader developed a slight West Country accent tho… given we’re in the Southern Uplands of Scotland…
        Hope you like it and thanks for such lovely words.

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