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?