As the Second World War rages in Europe, two undergraduates in Tennessee work a summer job for a celebrated poetry professor, W. T. Harlan, as he supervises the clearing of a ravine to make a garden. At their side is a German POW, watched by military guard, who has been sent to help them with their task. One of the boys, Benjamin Mason, is from a wealthy family and aspires to be a poet; the other, Steven Darby yearns simply to escape his corner of America and explore the world. As they work, they will get to know the German soldier next to them and the brilliant, unhappy W. T. Harlan. By the end of the summer, through the experience of war, poetry, and tragedy, all of their lives will be transformed.
Ploughshares, the literary magazine of Emerson College.