Saturday, 26 June 2010

R.S. Thomas

Anyone who reads my blog regularly will by now know that one of my all-time favourite poets is R S Thomas. I read and admire the work of many different poets but always, in the end, in come back to Thomas who says (so well) what I want to say.
He is not, on the whole, a descriptive poet - we rarely get to know what anyone looks like in his poems but, by golly, we get to know what they think and feel - or often what they don't think and feel. I suppose you could say that he was a poet of ideas.
His themes are often to do with his love/hate relationship with the Welsh countryside and its people; the narrowness of their lives; their lack of questioning about life.
Several years ago, when I was studying Thomas in depth, I tried an experiment. Last night I remembered it when talking about poetry with my son and I showed it to him. He suggested that I showed it to you. So here it is.
What I did was to look through a variety of his poetry and select one line from each. Then I put those lines together in a 'poem' and I think that the result is staggering. One thing it shows clearly is the consistency of his talent and his constant preoccupation with the same themes.
I shall be interested to hear what you think of it, why you think it works and what you think of Thomas's poetry per se.
I honestly cannot think of another poet who could be taken apart and re-assembled like this and still make complete sense and, in fact, maka a coherent whole.

Poem made up of lines from separate poems by R S Thomas.

When I was a child and the soft flesh was forming,
Like a poem or a composition in music;
I looked as though through a clear window.
You could take me to pieces
and there would be no angel hard by, wringing its hands
over the demolition of the temple.

When I close my eyes I can see it.
I have looked long at the land,
trying to understand my place in it.
At the dark sources I stand now.
The winds of the world are blowing.
The patched gate you left open
will never be shut again.

Well, what do you think?


steven said...

weaver i've played with poems and poets and the results are often mixed in my own view but this is truly outstanding!!! beautiful. steven

Missie said...

well done!

The Solitary Walker said...

RS Thomas is one of my favourite poets too. Yes, his poetic style and themes over his life do have a consistency - all the more powerful for it.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Well that works pretty well!

Heather said...

That's amazing Pat - I wouldn't have thought it possible. I don't know the work of RS Thomas and am ashamed to admit I don't know much poetry. Looking back through my life I never seemed to have enough time for quiet and contemplative reading.

Reflections said...

Very fascinating... and yes, a definite cohesiveness that (I agree) would not work for most poets. I am not familiar with R.S. Thomas or his works, but most likely will be looking it up. Thank you

Unknown said...

Hello Weaver,

I recall you mentioning this when the Poetry on Wednesday group were doing a similar exercise. Of course, you are being the poet in this instance and it is your choice of lines that either works or does not. Your love of and familiarity with Thomas have helped you create a good poem from his lines.

Cloudia said...

Resonant and meaningful.

Aloha from Hawaii

Comfort Spiral

Reader Wil said...

I need to read this poem and all other poems a few times before understanding them. I must admit that there are very beautiful sentences in this poem, like:
"The winds of the world are blowing." Thanks for sharing this great poem, Weaver!

Bovey Belle said...

That is just amazing . . . I can see I need to renew my acquaintance with R S Thomas. (Just have and his poem "Welsh Landscape" is so true - I have always lived in the past in THIS Welsh landscape . . .

Unknown said...

Thank you for introducing RS Thomas to me, I think it works very well.

Anonymous said...

I guess if I had to choose just one poet's work for that desert island it would be R.S. Thomas, so I'm right with you, Pat. I'm sure you'll have read Byron Rogers' brilliant biography, "The Man Who Went Into The West', but just in case it slipped below your radar, here it is:

You've selected your lines well, Pat, and both RS and you shine through!

Dartford Warbler said...

I am another lover of the poetry of R.S. Thomas.Such a sense of place and of the lives of those who work the land in his corner of Wales.I first met his work during O and A Level studies many years ago and I was so thrilled to find an anthology in a second hand bookshop quite recently.

Your "Mix and Match" poem works well. An interesting thing to do!

Bernie said...

I loved this and will be sure to look up R. S. Thomas. He sounds like a poet I would like to get to know.

You did a great job of combining lines from many poems into one.

mrsnesbitt said...

what a wonderful idea!

Eryl said...

I have only just begun a rather tentative relationship with R S Thomas (bought a small anthology very recently and haven't read it all the way through yet) but this makes me want to get to know him much more.

Gwil W said...

I also enjoy doing this sort of thing. I don't know how I missed this. Glad you picked me up on it. By coincidence I'm currently looking at Hardy with a view to doing the same kind of exercise. It's all great fun. Naturally as I'm something of an R S Thomas fan myself I know already most of your lines - so maybe out of context - why do they unsettle me?

alexis nicole said...

I will admit that I had never heard of RS Thomas. I have just finished looking at his poetry on the web and WOW!....move over Dylan Thomas! ;)

DCAja said...

nice one!