The Legend of Henry Hayseed

Story by Johnny Sain

Illustrated by Sigrid Lorfing

He’s watched over the garden from spring’s first warm kiss
Kept guard over beans, cucumbers, and asparagus
He’s frightened crows from the corn and deer from the okra
He’s frightened you a time or two in the twilight aura

But as the joy of summer fades with its green
As shadows grow long and the light grows lean
When songbirds fly south, flowers wither and die
Henry Hayseed walks the farm in twinkling starlight

He climbs from his fencepost and wanders stiffly around
A trail of dropped straw marks his steps ‘cross the ground
He’s sloughed to the barn, to the shed, and the pond’s seep
He peered through your window, he watched you sleep

You heard his scratchy steps through the window’s screen
You wondered about the sounds and leapt up for a peek
But Henry was quick and then still as a post
You laughed off your shivers as just a figment like most

But inches away Henry stood with breathless life
In the shadows he waited for Halloween night
His patience was long as the oak trees are tall
He’s not really alive so time doesn’t matter at all


Henry waited til you slipped back under the sheets
Then shuffled up to the window, oh so discreet
Somewhere in the hay that made up his brain
Came the dust of a thought that a change should be made

For as long as the crops have came up from the ground
Henry’s spirit has moved through the soil and the plow
From wheat fields of Egypt when pharaohs ruled the land
On to Greece then to Rome in the vineyards he did stand

He brought wealth and good health to the farmer’s life
He was the effigy of gods, blessing harvest times
Celebrated as savior when the crops came in
Henry was burned and buried with winter’s cold winds

His body went into the soil whence it came
Giving nutrients back to the plants for the spring
It was a cycle of giving and receiving well known
It was the cycle of life since before time was told

Further north into Europe, children kept birds at bay
Til plague came along and took the children away
Scarecrows then moved into England and Germany
Henry’s legend grew dark then, the reasons are many


It was a time of great panic with death everywhere
People sought a strange comfort in making sense of their fear
So they told tales of witches and hexes and devils
And they blamed the hay folk for some of their troubles

The scarecrows decided and then they declared
That Halloween night would be only theirs
That anyone caught under moonlight alone
Would be startled and frightened and chilled to the bone

But while Henry watched you he made a decision
Scaring people to screams was not his life’s mission
He wanted to live as scarecrows of old
Bringing joy of the harvest to each living soul

So don’t expect Henry to jump from the dark
He won’t lurk ‘round the corner to give you a shock
He won’t sneak to your room and hide in a closet
He won’t be under your bed, strewing hay ‘cross your carpet

Henry, instead, will go back to his roots
He’ll take smile-less joy in his old ragged boots
He’ll again be a symbol of autumn’s delights
But he’ll still walk the farm every Halloween night.