R. S. Thomas

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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.

Ronald Stuart Thomas (29 March 191325 September 2000) published as R. S. Thomas, was a Welsh poet and Anglican Clergyman, noted for his nationalism and spirituality.

Sourced

I show you a new world, risen,
Stubborn with beauty, out of the heart’s need.

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?
  • 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
    And quietness.
  • 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?

Children’s Song

  • 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.

Here

  • 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.

Taliesin

A poem inspired by the subject and style of Taliesin
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.
  • 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.

External links

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