A Peasant by Ronald Stuart Thomas: Summary

A Peasant was written in 1942 by RS Thomas, where Iago Prytherch is presented as an epitome of people of Wales, and contrasted with the landscapes of Wales and the harshness of rural life. This character comes frequently in his poetry as the prototype of the Welsh hill uplands.

Ronald S. Thomas (1913-2000)

The poems commences with the name of a peasant. His name is Iago Prytherch. He is just an ordinary man of the bald (bare) Welsh hills. He pens a few sheep to protect them from the storm and rain (cloud). He works on the farm and cuts short the Mangels (a variety of beet). He chips the green. There is a half-witted smile and satisfaction in him. He works with the earth that gives flashes of light in the wind. His days are now spent. He has grown old by doing such simple things. The mirth in him is rarer than the sun that breaks the cheeks of the bare sky at least once in a week. This shows that the old man is disappointed and has very rare moments of mirth and laughter. The peasant, now, at night fixes himself in his chair and remains motionless except when he moves toward the fireplace. He is old and forgetful. His mind is vacant, and something frightening passes through his mind. Possibly the old man is haunted by the past and the future. The old man's clothes are dirty. There is sour with years of sweat and animal contact. Such sweaty clothes shock the so-called refined men of the towns/cities. But even such people are affected by the stark naturalness of the peasant. The old man, however, is the prototype of the whole peasants' world. He faces the siege of rain and wind's attrition and preserves his stock, his tradition and natural rhythm of living. He stands like "an impregnable fortress". He is metaphorically the preserver of his peasantry. He is a symbol of victory -- a fortress not to be damaged by the storms. Death comes and takes him away, but the endurance and the imprint of the peasant remain forever. The last two lines are the closing couplets. The speaker reminds us all that the peasant is the "winner of wars". His devotion and sacrifice are enduring. His image stands "like a tree under the curious stars". So long as the trees, stars and other life-forces exist in the world, the peasant's work will be remembered.

The poem has fine touches of natural, realistic details. The poet makes the peasant a symbol of the immortal life-force on earth, a source of inspiration (prototype) for the future generations. His death shall not wipe away his sacrifice and devotion. The poem is musical and has rhymes. It uses similes and metaphors and gives us the vivid picture of the ageing peasant. Like the speaker of the poem, we reflect upon the whole round of life and its meaning.

There is a shift in the tone of the poem when the poem moves from Iago to ‘your prototype’. The farmer Iago is not only presented as the peasant of the Welsh hills, but as the symbol of the all rustic workforces. These men continue to work despite all the harshness of life and seasons and nature. For the survival and the production, they never say day, night, scorching sun or the chilling winter. They have to be remembered and respected for their constant fight with the nature and especially for their victory.

Cite this Page!

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

Related Topics

A Peasant: Literary Analysis

A Peasant: Critical Analysis

The View from the Window: Analysis

Biography of Ronald Stuart Thomas