What Is A Peasant?

 In history

I miss the peasants. Don’t define the word as demeaning a person. A peasant is somebody who was tied to the land, often too little land. They had no chance of ever improving their prospects. However, the British tend to compliment themselves on ridding their country of peasants in Victorian and Edwardian times. That may be true but did that mean that the overall state of the poor improved? No! I knew the peasants when I was young. The milkman, on his horse drawn trap, who gave us milk straight out of a churn. The scythers who cut the grass in Shrewsbury Cemetery, when I was a 15 year old horticultural trainee. There was a nobility in those men, crocked yet alive in their eighties. What is a peasant? That was not a question I ever asked.

The human state

Perhaps I can claim to have been a peasant at that time. Firstly, I was dirt poor. Secondly, I worked to the horticultural seasons, of constant change yet no change year on year. Thirdly, I loved soil, the key component of our lives. I was an earth-toiler. However, I moved out of horticulture and crept up to management. That said, I never forgot that working the land was our human destiny. It is where our sustenance arises yet few people really understand this. We banished the peasant and yet created menial jobs to feed business barons managing us from up on high. The peasant morphed into a wage slave. Is there nobility in being a delivery driver, on poor wages and working to a grossly unhealthy schedule? Perhaps not.

Adding colour

The peasant was the colour in a village, the character, the lifeblood. Their rude cottages have been bought by metropolitans desirous of a rural idyl. The trouble is, their second homes destroy the village. The peasant is excluded, forced back into poor quality rentals where they will die out. They take the village with them, leaving a hollowed out shell. You can’t talk to metropolitans about ditches, soil, harvesting and animals because they know nothing. They are the ones who find joy in long haul flights to Bali. Theirs is another world, weighed down by their carbon footprint.

What is a peasant?

I always recall artworks featuring peasants. The women gleaning, who always looked far too clean, well dressed and healthy to be real peasants. The man, in a huge field, leaning on his hoe, that referred to as a Stone Age tool. The Romantic artists had an absurd approach to the nobility of working on the land. I still lean on my hoe, a wonderful tool. It becomes an extension to my body. However, these days, people using tools, like a fork or spade, don’t look right. The person and the tool look mismatched. Perhaps you need to use a tool as a young person, to embrace it as another limb. When I die, I shall be buried and back into the warm soil. However, although I would love my grave to be dug by an old fashioned gravedigger, it will be dug by a machine.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt
The Romans in Bradwell