R. S. Thomas
Life is at its best when it's shaken and stirred.F. Paul Facult
A Blackbird Singing
- It seems wrong that out of this bird,
Black, bold, a suggestion of dark
Places about it, there yet should come
Such rich music, as though the notes’
Ore were changed to a rare metal
At one touch of that bright bill.
- A slow singer, but loading each phrase
With history’s overtones, love, joy
And grief learned by his dark tribe
In other orchards and passed on
Instinctively as they are now,
But fresh always with new tears.
A Welsh Testament
- All right, I was Welsh. Does it matter?
I spoke a tongue that was passed on
To me in the place I happened to be,
A place huddled between grey walls
Of cloud for at least half the year.
My word for heaven was not yours.
The word for hell had a sharp edge
Put on it by the hand of the wind
Honing, honing with a shrill sound
Day and night. Nothing that Glyn Dwr
Knew was armour against the rain's
Missiles. What was descent from him?
- Even God had a Welsh name:
He spoke to him in the old language;
He was to have a peculiar care
For the Welsh people. History showed us
He was too big to be nailed to the wall
Of a stone chapel, yet still we crammed him
Between the boards of a black book.
- Yet men sought us despite this.
My high cheek-bones, my length of skull
Drew them as to a rare portrait
By a dead master. I saw them stare
From their long cars, as I passed knee-deep
In ewes and wethers. I saw them stand
By the thorn hedges, watching me string
The far flocks on a shrill whistle.
And always there was their eyes; strong
Pressure on me: You are Welsh, they said;
Speak to us so; keep your fields free
Of the smell of petrol, the loud roar
Of hot tractors; we must have peace
- Is a museum
Peace? I asked. Am I the keeper
Of the heart's relics, blowing the dust
In my own eyes? I am a man;
I never wanted the drab role
Life assigned me, an actor playing
To the past's audience upon a stage
Of earth and stone; the absurd label
Of birth, of race hanging askew
About my shoulders. I was in prison
Until you came; your voice was a key
Turning in the enormous lock
Of hopelessness. Did the door open
To let me out or yourselves in?
- We live in our own world,
A world that is too small
For you to stoop and enter
Even on hands and knees,
The adult subterfuge.
- You cannot find the centre
Where we dance, where we play,
Where life is still asleep
Under the closed flower,
Under the smooth shell
Of eggs in the cupped nest
That mock the faded blue
Of your remoter heaven.
- I am a man now.
Pass your hand over my brow.
You can feel the place where the brains grow.
- I am like a tree,
From my top boughs I can see
The footprints that led up to me.
- There is blood in my veins
That has run clear of the stain
Contracted in so many loins.
- Why, then, are my hands red
with the blood of so many dead?
Is this where i was mislead?
- Why are my hands this way
That they will not do as i say?
Does no God hear when i pray?
- I have nowhere to go.
The swift satellites show
The clock of my whole being is slow.
- It is too late to start
For destinations not of the heart.
I must stay here with my hurt.
- A poem inspired by the subject and style of Taliesin
- I have been all men known to history,
Wondering at the world and at time passing;
I have seen evil, and the light blessing
Innocent love under a spring sky.
- I have been Merlin wandering in the woods
Of a far country, where the winds waken
Unnatural voices, my mind broken
By a sudden acquaintance with man’s rage.
- I have known exile and a wild passion
Of longing changing to a cold ache.
King, beggar and fool, I have been all by turns,
Knowing the body’s sweetness, the mind’s treason;
Taliesin still, I show you a new world, risen,
Stubborn with beauty, out of the heart’s need.