R. S. Thomas

R
R. S. Thomas
Acting
Being unwise enough to have married her
I never knew when she was not acting.
‘I love you’ she would say; I heard the audiences
Sigh. ‘I hate you’; I could never be sure
They were still there. She was lovely. I
Was only the looking-glass she made up in.
I husbanded the rippling meadow
Of her body. Their eyes grazed nightly upon it.
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Evans
Evans? Yes, many a time
I came down his bare flight
Of stairs into the gaunt kitchen
With its wood fire, where crickets sang
Accompaniment to the black kettle’s
Whine, and so into the cold
Dark to smother in the thick tide
Of night that drifted about the walls
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The Fair
The idiot goes round and around
With his brother in a bumping car
At the fair. The famous idiot
Smile hangs over the car’s edge,
Illuminating nothing. This is mankind
Being taken for a ride by a rich
Relation. The responses are fixed:
Bump, smile; bump, smile. And the current
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Forest Dwellers
Men who have hardly uncurled
from their posture in the
womb. Naked. Heads bowed, not
in prayer, but in contemplation
of the earth they came from,
that suckled them on the brown
milk that builds bone not brain.

Who called them forth to walk
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On the Farm
There was Dai Puw. He was no good.
They put him in the fields to dock swedes,
And took the knife from him, when he came home
At late evening with a grin
Like the slash of a knife on his face.

There was Llew Puw, and he was no good.
Every evening after the ploughing
With the big tractor he would sit in his chair,
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Perspectives
Primeval

Beasts rearing from green slime—
an illiterate country, unable to read
its own name. Stones moved into position
on the hills’ sides; snakes laid their eggs
in their cold shadow. The earth suffered
the sky’s shrapnel, bled yellow
into the enraged sea. At night heavily
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Poste Restante
I want you to know how it was,
whether the Cross grinds into dust
under men’s wheels or shines brightly
as a monument to a new era.

There was a church and one man
served it, and few worshipped
there in the raw light on the hill
in winter, moving among the stones
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The Prisoner
‘Poems from prison! About
what?’
‘Life and God.’ ‘God
in prison? Friend, you trifle
with me. His face, perhaps,
at the bars, fading
like life.’
‘He came in
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Thirteen Blackbirds Look at a Man
1

It is calm.
It is as though
we lived in a garden
that had not yet arrived
at the knowledge of
good and evil.
But there is a man in it.
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Threshold
I emerge from the mind’s
cave into the worse darkness
outside, where things pass and
the Lord is in none of them.

I have heard the still, small voice
and it was that of the bacteria
demolishing my cosmos. I
have lingered too long on
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The Untamed
My garden is the wild
Sea of the grass. Her garden
Shelters between walls.
The tide could break in;
I should be sorry for this.

There is peace there of a kind,
Though not the deep peace
Of wild places. Her care
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Walter Llywarch
I am, as you know, Walter Llywarch,
Born in Wales of approved parents,
Well goitred, round in the bum,
Sure prey of the slow virus
Bred in quarries of grey rain.

Born in autumn at the right time
For hearing stories from the cracked lips
Of old folk dreaming of summer,
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Kneeling
Moments of great calm,
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer, waiting for the God
To speak; the air a staircase
For silence; the sun’s light
Ringing me, as though I acted
A great rôle. And the audiences
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Together
All my life
I was face to face
with her, at meal-times,
by the fire, even
in the ultimate intimacies
of the bed. You could have asked,
then, for information
about her? There was a room
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