Peasants – Poem by Day Williams


The afternoon sun beat on the clods and the sticks, 
Birds flew to the shade and rested, ignored, 
While the peasants worked the field, a crew of four.

“We will take the wealth and pride from the rich, 
Give their gold and silver to the sick and the poor, “
Boasted the peasants as they hoed the rows.

So they grabbed machetes and took from the rich,

And the neighbors and families had more, much more.
Crowed the peasants, “We’ve hit it in the core,

And we won’t invest and wait like the rich; 
We will break the windows, raid the liquor stores, “
Vowed the peasants before they passed out on floors.

Prices rose like parrot screams to high pitch, 
Not a man or woman worked anymore, 
And the bosses burned down the house of the Lord.

The bosses took peasants from the floors and the ditches, 
Strapped packs on their backs and gave them bright swords
And ordered them to march, march, march to war.

A few straggled back in tatters and stitches
To the crumbled village square, where they roared, 
“We clobbered them in front, knocked them down before, 

And left only a handful of rebels who twitched-
How the blood spattered their doors and their floors . . .
Our names will go down in this country’s lore.”

And a crippled child asked, “What of the rich? 
Have they been destroyed, gone forevermore? 
Do peasants control the whole country’s stores? “

A soldier chuckled and said, “What of the rich? 
They backed both sides in our bloody war
And they control the whole country’s stores.”

And he hitched his pants and scratched an itch, 
Picked up a hoe in the dust by the door
And hobbled toward fields to start on his chores. 

~Day Williams



1 Naomi had a relative upon

            Her husband’s side, out of Elimelech’s

            Clan, Boaz, whom the town respected, 2 and

The Moabitess Ruth said to Naomi,

            “Let me go to the fields and go behind

            Someone in whose eyes I find favor to pick

Leftover grain up,” and Naomi told

            Her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” 3 So she went

            Out and began to glean in fields behind

The harvesters. As it turned out, she found

            Herself at work inside a field belonging

            To Boaz, from Elimelech’s own clan.

4 That moment, Boaz came from Bethlehem

            And greeted harvesters, “The LORD be with

            You!” and they called back, “The LORD bless you!” 5 Boaz

Questioned the foreman of his harvesters,

            “Who does that young woman belong to?” 6 And

            The foreman answered, “She’s the Moabitess

Who came from Moab with Naomi. 7 She

            Said, ‘Let me glean and gather up among

            The sheaves behind the harvesters, please.’ She

Went in the field and has worked steadily

            From morning till now, but for a short rest

            Within the shelter.”  8 Boaz thus asked Ruth,

“My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and

            Glean in another field and don’t go off

            From here, and stay here with my servant girls.

9 Now watch the field where men are harvesting;

            Follow along behind the girls. I’ve told

            Men not to touch you, and whenever you

Are thirsty, go and get a drink out of

            The water jars the men have filled.” 10 At this,

            She bowed down with her face onto the ground,

And she exclaimed, “Why have I found such favor

            With you, you notice me—a foreigner?”

                     11 Boaz replied, “I have been told about

What you’ve done for your mother-in-law since

            Your husband died—how you have left your father

            And mother and your homeland and have come

To live with people you did not know before.

            12 May God repay you for what you have done

            And may you be rewarded richly by the LORD,

The God of Israel, beneath whose wings

            You have come to take refuge.” 13 “And may I

            Continue to find favor in your eyes,

My lord,” she said. “You have comforted me

            And you have spoken kindly to your servant—

            Although I do not have the standing of

One of your servant girls.” 14 At mealtime Boaz

            Told her, “Come over here, and have some bread

            And dip it in the wine vinegar.” When she

Sat with the harvesters, he offered her

            Some roasted grain, and she ate all that she

            Desired, with some left over. 15 She got up

To glean, and Boaz told his men, “If she

            Gathers among the sheaves, do not embarrass

            Her. 16 Rather, pull some stalks out for her from

The bundles; leave them for her to pick up,

            And don’t rebuke her.” 17 So Ruth gleaned inside

            The field ‘til evening, then she threshed the barley

That she had gathered, which amounted to

            About an ephah, 18 and she carried it

            To town. Her mother-in-law saw how much

She had collected. Ruth brought out and gave

            Her what she had left over after she’d

            Eaten enough. 19 Her mother-in-law asked,

“Where did you glean today? Where did you work?

            God bless the man who noticed you!” Ruth told

            Her mother-in-law of the man whose place

She had been working at.  “His name is Boaz,”

            She said. 20 “The LORD bless him!” Naomi told

            Her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing

His kindness to the living and the dead.”

            She said, “That man is our close relative,

            One of our kinsman-redeemers.” 21 Then Ruth

The Moabitess said, “He even said

            To me, ‘Stay with my workers ‘til they have

            Completed harvesting my grain.’” 22 Naomi

Told Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It is good,

            My daughter, for you to go with his girls,

            For in another field you might be harmed.”

Ruth Gleaning in Boaz’s Field

23 So Ruth stayed close to servant girls of Boaz

            To glean ‘til end of wheat and barley harvests,

            And she lived with her mom-in-law, a guest.