R.S. Thomas, THIS, and A Lasting Gift


I haven’t been writing (much), but rewording. My college art tutor (Kevin) said “It’s (all) well and good, you having ideas, but you’ll have to produce some work at some point.”

There are reasons, such as…I shouldn’t say, and other reasons to let the pen dry, and the paint turn (into) tin-wrapped brick;

and it’s been less than half-done for so long now, that’s just the way I’ve learned to like it. 

They’re all good reasons. The best laid plans…

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.

Aft, but not always.

Rabbie (Burns) wished that…

I for poor auld Scotland’s sake

Some useful plan, or book could make

And does he hear the thanks he gets for doing just that? I bet he does.

’till next month, Rabbie.

R. S. Thomas is kind to me, when I have nothing to say. I imagine he could have been less kind to those keen on freely emptying their minds. 

R. S. asks, in his poem NO

Are you better than he, that the glib questions

Multiply at your tongue’s tip?

His poem THIS, you can see here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=29027 along with INDOORS (another show of the man’s humility, and his weariness with facing proud intolerance). 

I find his solemn intercessions soothing.

The tone of THIS is more wistful, and the poem reveals a desire (for more), that isn’t common in Thomas’s collections of testaments to the goodness of a stoic existence. 

I thought, you see, that on some still night,

When stars were shrill over his farm,

And he and I kept ourselves warm

By an old fire, whose bars were bright

With real heat, the truth might ripen

Between us naturally as the fruit

Of his wild hedges, or as the roots,

Swedes and mangolds, he grew then.

I believe ripe truth is a fine thing to wish for.

Bloodaxe’s 1986 publication of R. S. Thomas’s selected poems 1946-1968 was passed to me in Rosthwaite car park, with (needless) apologies for the lack of wrapping,
this time last year, before last Christmas,
after walking my favourite loop, up to Watendlath, down through Ashness Woods, to Grange…
We diverted at Grange, up toward Manesty Woods, and played chess in the Borrowdale Gates, before skirting (back) between the ever-green east side of Castle Crag and the Derwent’s chill and languid waters, in the dusk.

To borrow a question (not too glib) from fellow blogger Bret:

What do you make of this poem?…or that poem?

Published by Kay Keenan

Kay Keenan writes poetry and fiction, and her story "Shoes and Trews and Shell Dust" was shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction prize, and published in their anthology "with one eye on the cows". She works as a holistic therapist in the country of Cumbria.

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