The “Vision of the Pension Plowman” is a bastardisation of the title of a 14th century english Poet (William Langland’s) great poem, “the Vision of Piers Plowman”. In this great book, the Plowman falls asleep by a stream and dreams
A fair field full of folk · found I in between,
Of all manner of men · the rich and the poor,
Working and wandering · as the world asketh.
Some put them to plow · and played little enough,
At setting and sowing · they sweated right hard
And won that which wasters · by gluttony destroy.
Some put them to pride · and apparelled themselves so
In a display of clothing · they came disguised.
To prayer and penance · put themselves many,
All for love of our Lord · living hard lives,
In hope for to have · heavenly bliss.
Such as anchorites and hermits · that kept them in their cells,
And desired not the country · around to roam;
Nor with luxurious living · their body to please.
And some chose trade · they fared the better,
As it seemeth to our sight · that such men thrive.
This is a rough translation into modern words . What Langland wrote probably looked like this
A feir feld full of folk fond I ther bitwene,
Alle maner of men, the mene and the riche,
Worchinge and wandringe as the world asketh.
Summe putten hem to the plough, pleiden ful seldene,
In settynge and in sowynge swonken ful harde,
And wonnen that theos wasturs with glotonye distruen.
And summe putten hem to pruide, apparaylden hem ther-after,
In cuntenaunce of clothinge comen disgisid.
To preyeres and to penaunce putten hem monye,
For love of ur Lord liveden ful streite,
In hope for to have hevene-riche blisse;
As ancres and hermytes that holdeth hem in heore celles,
Coveyte not in cuntré to cairen aboute,
For non likerous lyflode heore licam to plese.
And summe chosen chaffare to cheeven the bettre,
As hit semeth to ure sighte that suche men thryveth;
Piers’ vision is of a working community that exists in harmony because it is stable and has a common purpose. For a 14th Century Cleric, there really was only one demonstrable common purpose, the glory of God.
But Langland was a man of the world and his poem mixes up the secular and the spiritual so that the field of folk becomes a little heaven on earth.
Like Bob Marley in “Get up – Stand up”
Most people think,
Great god will come from the skies,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.
But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:
So this is what the Vision of the Pension Plowman is, it’s me trying to work out what a field of folk would look like in 21st Century Britain, it’s me looking for some life “right here on earth”.
I’m sure anyone who can be bothered to get to the bottom of this blog (having read what they’ve just scrolled through, would want to be a part of that vision!