All I Have To Do Is Glean, Glean, Glean
François Millet (1857)
Ron Jolly showed me a book with the word gleanings in its title and asked where the word came from.
Used as a metaphorical term, gleaning refers to gathering odds and ends of information bit by bit and placing them in one written piece. The word gleanings shows up in the title of many books and pamphlets, a surprising number of them about local history or about religious thoughts. The word tracks back to a verb found both in Old French (glener) and Late Latin (glenare).
To glean was to wander through fields that had already been harvested in order to gather the scraps left behind by the reapers. The most famous gleaner was Ruth, who benefited from the generosity of Boaz.
Not only was leaving material for the poor to glean an act of kindness, it was seen as a religious obligation:
• Leviticus 19:9–10. And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corner of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleaning of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather the fallen fruit of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God.
• Leviticus 23:22. And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corner of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleaning of thy harvest; thou shalt leave them for the poor, and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God.
SIDEBAR: Food Recovery and Gleaning Initiative:
A Citizen’s Guide to Food Recovery
SIDEBAR: movie -- The Gleaners and I
(substitute @ for AT above)