A Peasant by Ronald Stuart Thomas: Literary Appreciation

At the first glance of the poem, we can see that it is merely a characterization of a peasant. Name, place, works, and experiences of the man have been given in details in prosaic style.

Ronald S. Thomas (1913-2000)

The peasant is lago Prytherch, most probably a Russian folk, but, he has been compared with an ordinary man of the barren Welsh hills.

            ..................be it allowed,

           Just an ordinary man of the bold Welsh hills.

The poet says much about the poor condition of the man by the remark – ‘....his spittled mirth/Rarer than the sun that cracks the cheeks/Of the gaunt sky perhaps once in a week.’ His happy face is bright once in a week. The harsh words spittled', 'cracks', 'cheeks', and ‘gaunt' produce the sound that demands readers' sympathy towards him. Healthy checks are cracked like a thick cloud in the sky clacked the sun.

His days pass in farmlands taming the cattle and tending the land. He pens a few sheep in open land. He brings cattle food. He brings, leaves breaking (chipping) from branches of trees. He is satisfied with his works. He also digs and plows the earth, changing the soil to the sea level. Even the plowed soil shines in the surrounding atmosphere. His works are blessings and satisfaction is a pleasure. Rest is at night in his chair, motionlessly sitting by the fire. Cracked cheeks, spitting in the fire, clothes battered with years of sweat, a winner of wars and enduring like a tree under the curious stars; all these give us meaning that the man is certainly an old man. Therefore, there is something frightening in the vacancy of his mind.

A series of events of past moments are moving in his mind. There may be lamentation over lost moments and fear of the future. His sense has been relined and affected with desolate naturalness. Until now, the poet has dealt about the life of the peasant, but suddenly he changes his voice and makes commentary on everybody's life. That is to say, the poet moves from the particular to the general, saying that the man is typical example or model of every person, who has experienced several seasons of life, but still preserved his stock of cattle and kept his living place stronger like a fortress. He is strong in confidence and enduring all kinds of storms of life.

Thus, the development of the poem is merely a detailed characterization of the old man. Like an essayist, the speaker is acting here as a commentator. There is a traditional philosophy of an old man, who is also a peasant. However, the poem doesn't contain many poetic qualities. There are rhymes that we find in the end of the lines. The rhymes are alternatively given here. Words have been compacted and the syllables vary in the lines. Different pauses by commas break the lines and give sometimes rhythmic effect.

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Sharma, Kedar N. "A Peasant by Ronald Stuart Thomas: Literary Appreciation." BachelorandMaster, 31 Aug. 2014, bachelorandmaster.com/britishandamericanpoetry/a-peasant-literary-appreciation.html.

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