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In literature, there is a longstanding tradition of the ploughman as a metaphor for the poet author. Origins may lie in the imagery of the author sowing ideas and cultivating his work, or from the Latin technical term, exaratus, or 'ploughed up', referring to the heavy-handed process of incribing parchment; the pen creates furrows on the page.

Vergil in his Georgics already makes scattered allusions. William Langland in his Piers Ploughman uses the idea liberally, while the work 'Der Ackerman', (The Ploughman), by Johannes von Tepl, is an autobiographical work, imagining a conversation between him and death. Very often, the metaphor is made clear by the complete incompetence of the protagonist-ploughman in regards to all matters of farming. A 1690 poem reads:

The paper is my land,
It keeps me honest.
The pen is my plow,
It keeps my wit sharp.
The ink is my seed,
It holds my name for the ages.

Alright, it rhymes in German, anyway; you get the idea.

Plow"man, Plough"man (?), n.; pl. -men ().


One who plows, or who holds and guides a plow; hence, a husbandman.

Chaucer. Macaulay.


A rustic; a countryman; a field laborer.

Plowman's spikenard Bot., a European composite weed (Conyza squarrosa), having fragrant roots.

Dr. Prior.


© Webster 1913.

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