Friday, November 21, 2008

A DEBT (R.S. Thomas)

A DEBT (R.S. THOMAS) November 17

R.S.Thomas (1913-2000) wrote lyrics that seared the imagination as if his readers were cattle and required a harsh accounting, an indelible mark. As I read him today, on my birthday, I think too of that other Thomas of my first loves in poetry, the one who wrote about his thirtieth year to heaven. My meter has been more finely shaped, however, by R.S. than by his better known and fellow Welshman Dylan (1914-1953). I miss them both tonight, of course. And like all children I want my loves together, to swaddle me and put me to bed.

Here are a couple of RS Thomas poems


The fox drags its wounded belly
Over the snow, the crimson seeds
Of blood burst with a mild explosion,
Soft as excrement, bold as roses.

Over the snow that feels no pity,
Whose white hands can give no healing,
The fox drags its wounded belly.


That man, Prytherch, with the torn cap,
I saw him often, framed in the gap
Between two hazels with his sharp eyes,
Bright as thorns, watching the sunrise
Filling the valley with its pale yellow
Light, where the sheep and the lambs went haloed
With grey mist lifting from the dew.
Or was it a likeness that the twigs drew
With bold penciling upon that bare
Piece of sky? For he’s still there
At early morning, when the light is right
And I look up suddenly at a bird’s flight.