Tuesday, October 16, 2007  

Two recently discovered portraits

posted by thomas | 11:26 PM

Wednesday, January 03, 2007  

RS had his portrait scanned for Christmas!

posted by thomas | 1:05 AM

Tuesday, April 22, 2003  

Easter. I approach
the years' empty tomb.
What has time done with
itself? Is the news worth
the communicating? The word's
loincloth can remember
little. A thin, cold wind
blows from beyond the abysm
that I gawp into. But supposing
there were bones; the darkness
illuminated like a museum?
In glass cases I have
peered at the brittle bundles,
exonerating my conscience
with mortality's tears.
But here, true to my name,
I have nothing to hold on
to, an absence so much richer
than a presence, offering
instead of the skull's
leer an impaled possibility
for faith's fingertips to explore

circa. 2000

posted by thomas | 4:59 PM

Friday, March 28, 2003  

29 March 1913-29 March 2000
Happy Birthday RS

Coming of Age

He grew up into an emptiness
he was on terms with. The duplicity
of language that could name
what was not there was accepted

by him. He was content, remembering
the unseen writing of Christ
on the ground, to interpret
it in its own way. Adultery

of the flesh has the divine
pardon. It is the mind
catching itself in the act
of unfaithfulness that must cast no stone.


posted by thomas | 10:16 PM

Tuesday, December 24, 2002  

Sea Christmas

This is the wrong Christmas
in the right place: mistletoe
water there is no kissing
under; the soused holly

of the wrack, and birds coming
to the bird-table with
no red on their breast. All
night it has snowed

foam on the splintering
beaches, but the dawn-
wind carries it away, load
after load, and look,

the sand at the year's
solstice is young flesh
on a green crib, product
of an immacukate conception.

posted by thomas | 7:53 PM

Wednesday, October 23, 2002  


a testament

r.s. thomas

the frangipani press

"...how our art is our meaning"
Sonata. Later Poems 1983

Ap Huw's Testament
There are four verses to put down
For the four people in my life,
Father, mother, wife

And the one child. Let me begin
With her of the immaculate brow
My wife; she loves me. I know how.

My mother gave me the breast's milk
Generously, but grew mean after,
Envying me my detached laughter.

My father was a passionate man,
Wrecked after leaving the sea
In her love's shallows. He grieves in me.

What shall I say of my boy,
Tall, fair? He is young yet;
Keep his feet free of the world's net.

I imagine it: two people,
A bed; I was not
There. They dreamed of me ?
No, they sought themselves
In the other, You,
They breathed. I overheard
From afar. I was nine months
Coming. . . nearer, nearer;
The ugliness of the place
Daunted. I hung back
In the dark, but was cast out,
Howling. Love, they promised;
It will be love and sunlight
And joy. I took their truth
In my mouth and mumbled it
For a while, till my teeth
Grew. Ah, they cried, so you would,
Would you? I knew the cold


The fall of a great house?
I smile - bitterly?
Anyhow but proudly.
Two people cast up
on life's shore:
can't you see the emptiness
of their pockets,
and their small hearts
ready to burst with

love? Say 'feeling'
and the explosion
not loud.
They come to
in a lodging, make love
in a rented bed.
And I am not present
as yet.
Could it be said, then,
I am on my way, a nonentity
with a destination?
What do they do
waiting for me? They invent
My name. I am born
To a concept, answering
To it with reluctance. I am
wheeled through ignorance
to a knowledge that is not
Nothing they have they own;
the borrowed furnishings of their minds
frays. I study to become a rat
that will desert
the foundering vessel
of their pride; but home
is a long time sinking. All
my life I must swim
out of the suction of its vortex.


Dear parents,
I forgive you my life,
Begotten in a drab town,
The intention was good;
Passing the street now,
I see still the remains of sunlight.

It was not the bone buckled;
You gave me enough food
To renew myself.
It was the mind's weight
Kept me bent, as I grew tall.

It was not your fault.
What should have gone on,
Arrow aimed from a tried bow
At a tried target, has turned back,
Wounding itself
With questions you had not asked.


An ordinary lot:
The sons dwindling from a rich
Father to a house in a terrace
And furniture of the cheap sort ;
The daughters respectable, marrying
Approved husbands with clean shoes
And collars; as though dullness
And nonentity's quietness
Were virtues after the crazed ways
Of that huge man, their father, buying himself
Smiles, sailing his paper money
From windows of the Welsh hotel
He had purchased to drown in drink.
But one of them was drowned
Honourably. A tale has come down
From rescuers, forced to lie off
By the breakers, of men lined up
At the rail as the ship foundered,
Smoking their pipes and bantering. And he
Was of their company; his tobacco
Stings my eyes, who am ordinary too.

The Boy's Tale

Skipper wouldn't pay him off,
Never married her;
Came home by Port Said
To a Welsh valley;
Took a girl from the tip,
Sheer coal dust
The blue in her veins.
Every time I go now
Through black sunlight,
I see her scratch his name
On the pane of her breath.
Caught him in her thin hair,
Couldn't hold him -
Voices from the ports
Of the stars, pavilions
Of unstable water.
She went fishing in him;
I was the bait
That became cargo,
Shortening his trips,
Waiting on the bone's wharf.
Her tongue ruled the tides.

The Survivors

I never told you this.
He told me about it often:
Seven days in an open boat - burned out,
No time to get food:
Biscuits and water and the unwanted sun,
With only the oars' wing-beats for motion,
Labouring heavily towards land
That existed on a remembered chart,
Never on the horizon
Seven miles from the boat's bow.

After two days song dried on their lips;
After four days speech.
On the fifth cracks began to appear
In the faces' masks; salt scorched them.
They began to think about death,
Each man to himself, feeding it
On what the rest could not conceal.
The sea was as empty as the sky,
A vast disc under a dome
Of the same vastness, perilously blue.

But on the sixth day towards evening
A bird passed. No one slept that night;
The boat had become an ear
Straining for the desired thunder
Of the wrecked waves. It was dawn when it came,
Ominous as the big guns
Of enemy shores. The men cheered it.
From the swell's rise one of them saw the ruins
Of all that sea, where a lean horseman
Rode towards them and with a rope
Galloped them up on to the curt sand.


The centuries were without
his like: then suddenly
he was there, fishing
in a hurrying river,
the Teifi. But what he caught
were ideas; the water
described a direction;
his thoughts were toy boats
that grew big; one
he embarked on; Suez,
the Far East - the atlas
became familiar
to him as a back-yard.

'Spittle and phlegm
Listen. sailor,
to the wind piping
in the thin rigging;
go climbing there
to the empty nest
of the black crow. Far
is the deck and farther
your courage.'
captain, long
is the wind's tongue

and cold your porridge.
Look up now .
and dry your beard:
teach me to ride
in my high saddle
the mare of the sea.'

He fell.
Was it the fall
of the soul
from favour? Past four
decks, and his bones
splintered. Seventeen weeks
on his back. No Welsh,
no English; but the hands
of the Romanians
kind. He became
their mouth-piece, publishing
his rebirth. In a new
body he sailed
away on his old course.

On brisk evenings
before the Trades
the sails named
themselves; he repeated
the lesson. The First
Mate had a hard boot.

Cassiopeia, Sirius,
all the stars
over him, yet none of them
with a Welsh sound.
But the capstan spoke
in cynghanedd; from
breaker to breaker
he neared home.

'Evening, sailor.' Red
lips and a tilted smile;
the ports garlanded
with faces. Was he aware
of a vicarage garden
that was the cramped harbour
he came to?
the letters began:
'Dear -' the small pen
in the stubbed hand -
'in these dark waters
the memory of you
is like a -' words scratched
out that would win a smile
from the reader. The deep
sea and the old call
to abandon it

for the narrow channel
from her and back. The chair
was waiting and the slippers
by the soft fire
that would destroy him.

'The hard love I had at her small breasts:
the tight fists that pummelled me ;
the thin mouth with its teeth clenched
on a memory.' Are all women
like this? He said so, that man,
my father, who had tasted their lips'
vinegar, coughing it up
in harbours he returned to with his tongue
lolling from droughts of the sea.

The voice of my father
in the night with the hunger
of the sea in it and the emptiness
of the sea. While the house founders
in time. I must listen to him
complaining, a ship's captain
with no crew, a navigator
without a port: rejected
by the barrenness of his wife's
coasts, by the wind's bitterness

off her heart. I take his failure
for ensign, flying it
at my bedpost, where my own
children cry to be born.

Suddenly he was old
in a silence unhaunted
by the wailing signals;

and was put ashore
on that four-walled
island to which all sailors must come.

So he went gleaning
in the flickering stubble,
where formerly his keel reaped.

And the remembered stars
swarmed for him; and the birds, too,
most of them with wrong names.

Always he looked aft
from the chair's bridge, and his hearers
suffered the anachronism of his view.

The form of his
life; the weak smile;
the fingers filed down
by canvas; the hopes
blunted; the lack of understanding
of life creasing the brow
with wrinkles, as though he pondered
on deep things.
Out of touch
with the times, landlocked
in his ears' calm, he remembered
and talked; spoiling himself
with his mirth; running the joke
down; giving his orders
again in hospital with his crew
gone. What was a sailor
good for who had sailed
all seas and learned wisdom
from none, fetched up there
in the shallows with his mind's
valueless cargo?

Strange grace, sailor, docked now
in six feet of thick soil,
with the light dribbling on you
from the lamps in a street
of a town you had no love
for. The place is a harbour
for stone sails, and under
it you lie with the becalmed
fleet heavy upon you. This
was never the destination
you dreamed of in that other
churchyard by Teifi.
And I,
can I accept your voyages
are done; that there is no tide
high enough to float you off
this mean shoal of plastic
and trash? Six feet down,
and the bone's anchor too
heavy for your child spirit
to haul on and be up and away?

The Father Dies

Ah, forget this snivel, the gone
lip. I am not maudlin;
it is just that all my life
I tried to keep love from bursting
its banks. Love is the fine thing
but destructive. I strove to contain it,
to picture it as the river
we lived by. But to fall
headlong in, to be carried away
in front of you, son; to have
no firm ground: a father drowning
in tears and without
breath to keep his voice casual
as in the old days; and the smile
you hold out to me breaks
like a stick, because there is
as much pity in it as love.

Sailors' Hospital

It was warm
Inside, but there was
Pain there. I came out
Into the cold wind
Of April. There were birds
In the brambles' old,
Jagged iron, with one striking
Its small song. To the west,
Rising from the grey
Water, leaning one
On another were the town's
Houses. Who first began
That refuse: time's waste
Growing at the edge
Of the clean sea? Some sailor
Fetching up on the
Shingle before wind
Or current, made it his
Harbour, hung up his clothes

In the sunlight; found women
To breed from - those sick men
His descendants. Every day
Regularly the tide
Visits them with its salt
Comfort; their wounds are shrill
In the rigging of the
Tall ships.
With clenched thoughts,
That not even the sky's
Daffodil could persuade
To open, I turned back
To the nurses in their tugging
At him, as he drifted
Away on the current
Of his breath, further and further,
Out of hail of our love.

July 5 1940

Nought that I would give today
Would half compare
With the long-treasured riches that somewhere
In the deep heart are stored.
Cloud and the moon and mist and the whole
Hoard of frail, white-bubbling stars,
And the cool blessing,
Like moth or wind caressing,
Of the fair, fresh rain-dipped flowers;
And all the spells of the sea, and the new green
Of moss and fern and bracken
Before their youth is stricken;
The thoughts of the trees at eventide, the hush
In the dark corn at morning,
And the wish
In your own heart still but dawning-
All of these,
A soft weight on your hands,
I would give now;
And lastly myself made clean
And white as the wave-washed sand,
If I knew how.


My luminary.
my morning and evening
star. My light at noon
when there is no sun
and the sky lowers. My balance
of joy in a world
that has gone off joy's
standard. Yours the face
that young I recognised
as though I had known you
of old. Come, my eyes
said, out into the morning
of a world whose dew
waits for your footprint.
Before a green altar
with the thrush for priest
I took those gossamer
vows that neither the Church
could stale nor the Machine
tarnish, that with the years
have grown hard as flint,
lighter than platinum
on our ringless fingers.


Have I had to wait
all this time to discover
its meaning-that rectory,
mahogany of a piano
the light played on? What
it was saying to the unasked
question was: 'The answer
is here.' The woman was right;
she knew it: the truth china
can tell in a cool pantry;
the web happiness can weave
that catches nothing but the dew's
tears. The one flight over
that valley was that
of the wild geese. The river's
teeth chattered but not
with the cold. The woman tended
a wood fire against my return
from my wanderings, a silent entreaty
to me to cease my bullying
of the horizon. There was a dream
she kept under her pillow
that has become my nightmare.

It was the unrecognised conflict
between two nations; the one happy
in the territory it had gained,
determined to keep it; the other
with the thought he could kiss the feet
of the Welsh rainbow. I was shown
the fact: a people with a language
and an inheritance for sale;
their skies noisy with armed aircraft;
their highways sluices for their neighbours'
discharge. If I wet my feet
it was in seas radiant but not with well-being.
I retire at night beneath stars
that have gone out. I stand
with my friends at a cross-road
where there is no choice. No matter;
that nightmare is a steed I am
content to ride so it return
with me here among countrymen
whose welcome is warm at the grave's edge.
It is a different truth, a different
love I have come to, but one
I share with that afflicted remnant
As we go down, inalienable to our defeat.
The Return

Coming home was to that:
The white house in the cool grass
Membraned with shadow, the bright stretch
Of stream that was its looking-glass;

And smoke growing above the roof
To a tall tree among whose boughs
The first stars renewed their theme
Of time and death and a man's vows.

The Way of It

With her fingers she turns paint
into flowers, with her body
flowers into a remembrance
of herself. She is at work
always, mending the garment
of our marriage, foraging
like a bird for something
for us to eat. If there are thorns
in my life, it is she who
will press her breast to them and sing.
Her words, when she would scold,
are too sharp. She is busy
after for hours rubbing smiles
into the wounds. I saw her,
when young, and spread the panoply
of my feathers instinctively
to engage her. She was not deceived,
but accepted me as a girl
will under a thin moon
in love's absence as someone
she could build a home with
for her imagined child.

Seventieth Birthday

Made of tissue and H2O,
and activated by cells
firing - Ah, heart, the legend
of your person! Did I invent
it, and is it in being still?

In the competition with other
women your victory is assured.
It is time, as Yeats said, is
the caterpillar in the cheek's rose,
the untiring witherer of your petals.

You are drifting away from
me on the whitening current of your hair.
I lean far out from the bone's bough,
knowing the hand I extend
can save nothing of you but your love.


Come to me a moment, stand,
Ageing yet lovely still,
At my side, let me tell you that,
With the clouds massing for attack
And the wind worrying the leaves
From the branches and the blood seeping
Thin and slow through the ventricles
Of the heart, I regret less,
Looking back on the poem's
Weakness, the failure of the mind
To be clever than of the heart
To deserve you as you showed how.

The Son

It was your mother wanted you:
you were already half-formed
when I entered. But can I deny
the hunger, the loneliness bringing me in
from myself? And when you appeared
before me, there was no repentance
for what I had done, as there was shame
in the doing it; compassion only
for that which was too small to be called
human. The unfolding of your hands
was plant-like, your ear was the shell
I thundered in; your cries. when they came,
were those of a blind creature
trodden upon: pain not yet become grief.


From my father my strong heart,
My weak stomach.
From my mother the fear.

From my sad country the shame.

To my wife all I have
Saving only the love
That is not mine to give.

To my one son the hunger.

Song for Gwydion

When I was a child and the soft flesh was forming
Quietly as snow on the bare boughs of bone,
My father brought me trout from the green river
From whose chill lips the water song had flown.

Dull grew their eyes, the beautiful, blithe garland
Of stipples faded, as light shocked the brain;
They were the first sweet sacrifice I tasted,
A young god, ignorant of the blood's stain.

The Unborn Daughter

On her unborn in the vast circle
Concentric with our finite lives;
On her unborn, her name uncurling
Like a young fern within the mind;
On her unclothed with flesh or beauty
In the womb's darkness, I bestow
The formal influence of the will,
The wayward influence of the heart,
Weaving upon her fluid bones
The subtle fabric of her being,
Hair, hands and eyes, the body's texture,
Shot with the glory of the soul.


Fifty-two years,
most of them taken in
growing or in the illusion of it
what does the mem-
ory number as one's
property? The broken elbow?
the lost toy? The pain has
vanished, but the soft flesh
that suffered it is mine still.
There is a house with
a face mooning at the glass
of windows. Those eyes - I look
at not with them, but something of
their melancholy I
begin to lay claim to as my own.
A boy in school
his lessons are
my lessons, his
punishments I learn to deserve.
I stand up in him,
tall as I am

now, but without per-
spective. Distant objects
are too distant, yet will arrive
soon. How his words
muddle me; how my deeds
betray him. That is not
our intention; but where I should
be one with him, I am one now
with another. Before I had time
to complete myself, I let her share
in the building. This that I am
now - too many
labourers. What is mine is
not mine only: her love, her
child wait for my slow
signature. Son, from the mirror
you hold to me I turn
to recriminate. That likeness
you are at work upon - it hurts.


Nineteen years now
Under the same roof
Eating our bread,
Using the same air;
Sighing, if one sighs,
Meeting the other's
Words with a look
That thaws suspicion.

Nineteen years now
Sharing life's table,
And not to be first
To call the meal long
We balance it thoughtfully
On the tip of the tongue,
Careful to maintain
The strict palate.

Nineteen years now
Keeping simple house,
Opening the door
To friend and stranger;
Opening the womb
Softly to let enter
The one child
With his huge hunger.


Love songs in old age
have an edge to them
like dry leaves. The tree
we planted shakes in the wind.

of time. Our thoughts are birds
that sit in the boughs
and remember; we call
them down to the remains

of poetry. We sit
opposite one another
at table, parrying
our sharp looks with our blunt smiles


I look up; you pass.
I have to reconcile your
existence and the meaning of it
with what I read: kings and queens
and their battles
for power. You have your battle,
too. I ask myself: Have
I been on your side? Lovelier
a dead queen than a live
wife? History worships
the fact but cannot remain
neutral. Because there are no kings
worthy of you; because poets
better than I are not here
to describe you; because time
is always too short, you must go by
now without mention, as unknown
to the future as to
the past, with one man's
eyes resting on you
in the interval of his concern.


So you have to think
of the bone hearth where love
was kindled, of the size
of the shadows so small a flame
threw on the world's
walls, with the heavens
over them, lighting their vaster fires
to no end. He took her hand
sometimes and felt the will to be
of the poetry he could not
write. She measured him
with her moist eye for the coat
always too big. And time,
the faceless collector
of taxes, beat on their thin
door, and they opened
to him, looking beyond
him, beyond the sediment
of his myriad demands to the
bright place, where their undaunted
spirits were already walking.

He and She

When he came in, she was there.
When she looked at him,
he smiled. There were lights
in time's wave breaking
on an eternal shore.

Seated at table -
no need for the fracture
of the room's silence; noiselessly
they conversed. Thoughts mingling
were lit up, gold
particles in the mind's stream.

Were there currents between them?
Why, when he thought darkly,
would the nerves play
at her lips' brim? What was the heart's depth?
There were fathoms in her,
too, and sometimes he crossed
them and landed and was not repulsed.


I said to her what
Was in my heart, she
What was not in hers.
On such shaky

Foundations we built
One of love's shining
Greenhouses to let fly
In with our looks.

Sarn Rhiw

So we know
she must have said something
to him - What language,
life? Ah, what language?

Thousands of years later
I inhabit a house
whose stone is the language
of its builders. Here

by the sea they said little.
But their message to the future
was: Build well. In the fire
of an evening I catch faces

staring at me. In April,
when light quickens and clouds
thin, boneless presences
flit through my room.

Will they inherit me
one day? What certainties
have I to hand on
like the punctuality

with which, at the moon's
rising, the bay breaks
into a smile, as though meaning
were not the difficulty at all?

The Untamed

My garden is the wild
Sea of the grass. Her garden
Shelters between walls.
The tide could break in;
I should be sorry for this.

There is peace there of a kind,
Though not the deep peace
Of wild places. Her care
For green life has enabled
The weak things to grow.

Despite my first love,
I take sometimes her hand,
Following strait paths
Between flowers, the nostril
Clogged with their thick scent.

The old softness of lawns
Persuading the slow foot
Leads to defection: the silence
Holds with its gloved hand
The wild hawk of the mind.

But not for long, windows,
Opening in the trees
Call the mind back
To its true eyrie: I stoop
Here only in play.

Golden Wedding

Cold hands meeting,
the eyes aside -
so vows are contracted
in the tongue's absence.

over fifty long years
of held breath
the heart has become warm

A Marriage

We met
under a shower
of bird-notes.
Fifty years passed,
love's moment
in a world in
servitude to time.
She was young;
I kissed with my eyes
closed and opened
them on her wrinkles.
'Come.' said death,
choosing her as his
partner for
the last dance. And she,
who in life
had done everything
with a bird's grace,
opened her bill now
for the shedding
of one sigh no
heavier than a feather.


All my life
I was face to face
with her, at meal-times,
by the fire, even
in the ultimate intimacies
of the bed. You could have asked,
then, for information
about her? There was a room
apart she kept herself in,
teasing me by leading me
to its glass door, only
to confront me with
my reflection. I learned from her
even so. Walking her shore
I found things cast up
from her depths that spoke
to me of another order,
worshipper as I was
of untamed nature. She fetched
her treasures from art's
storehouse: pieces of old

lace, delicate as frost;
china from a forgotten
period; a purse more valuable
than anything it could contain.
Coming in from the fields
with my offering of flowers
I found her garden
had forestalled me in providing
civilities for my desk.
' Tell me about life'
I would say, 'you who were
its messenger in the delivery
of our child'. Her eyes had a
fine shame, remembering her privacy
being invaded from further off than
she expected. 'Do you think
death is the end?' frivolously
I would ask her. I recall
now the swiftness of its arrival
wrenching her lip down, and how
the upper remained firm,
reticent as the bud that is
the precursor of the flower.


To all light things
I compared her; to
a snowflake, a feather.

I remember she rested
at the dance on my
arm, as a bird

on its nest lest
eggs break, lest
she lean too heavily

on our love. Snow
melts, feathers
are blown away;

I have let
her ashes down
in me like an anchor.

In Memoriam: M.E.E.

The rock says: 'Hold hard'.
The fly ignores it.
Here, gone, the raised wings
a rainbow. She, too:
here, gone. I know when,
but where? Eckhart,
you mock me. Between no-
where and anywhere
what difference? Her name
echoes the silence
she and her brush kept.
Immortality, perhaps,
is having one's
name said over
and over? I let
the inscription do it
for me. She explored
all of the spectrum

in a fly's wing. The days,
polishing an old
lamp, summon for me
her genie. Others
will come to this stone
where, so timeless
the lichen, so delicate
its brush strokes,
it will be as though
with all windows
in her ashen studio
she is at work for ever.

1. Photograph R.S.Thomas 1914
2. Photograph R.S.Thomas 1916
3. Photograph M.E.Eldridge 1912
4. Ap Huw's Testament Poetry for Supper 1958
5. I Young and Old 1972
6. M.E.Eldridge R.S.Thomas. Pencil Drawing 1939
7. Autobiography Uncollected. Wave No.7 1973
8. Sorry The Bread of Truth 1963
9. Relations Young and Old 1972
10. The Boy's Tale The Bread of Truth 1963
11. The Survivors The Bread of Truth 1963
12. M.E. Eldridge Buoys at Holyhead. Panel from Mural
at Gobowen Orthopaedic Hospital 1950
13. Salt Later Poems 1983
14. M.E.Eldridge Coracles on the Towy 1947
15. The Father Dies ms. 1978
16. Sailors' Hospital Not That He Brought Flowers 1968
17. Album Frequencies 1978
18.P Photograph M.E.Eldridge 1934
19. July 5th 1940 ms. 1940
20. Luminary ms. 1980
21. Manafon Residues 2002
22. The Return Song At The Year's Turning 1955
23. Photograph The Rectory Manafon 1950
24. M.E.Eldridge Morning Glory. Watercolour 1954
25. The Way of It The Way of It 1977
26. Seventieth Birthday Between Here and Now 1981
27. Cariad ms. 1970
28. Birthday ms. Echoes Return Slow 1984
29. Gifts Pieta 1966
30. Photograph R.S.Thomas and Gwydion 1945
31. The Son Laboratories of The Spirit 1975
32. Song For Gwydion An Acre Of Land 1952
33. The Unborn Daughter An Acre Of Land 1952
34. Careers Not That He Brought Flowers 1968
35. Photograph Gwydion 1966
36. Anniversary Tares 1961
37. Pension Uncollected. Encounter 1977
38. Marriage Laboratories Of The Spirit 1975
39. Two The Way Of It 1977
40. He And She Destinations 1985
41. Matrimony Residues 2002
42. Sarn Rhiw Destinations 1985
43. M.E.Eldridge Sarn. Watercolour. In My Garden 1986
44. The Untamed The Bread Of Truth 1963
45. Photograph M.E.Eldridge in Sarn Garden 1980
46. Golden Wedding Residues 2002
47. M.E.Eldridge R.S.T. and M.E.E. 1989
48. A Marriage Mass For Hard Times 1992
49. Together Residues 2002
50. Comparisons Residues 2002
51. In Memoriam M.E.E Residues 2002
52. M.E. Eldridge Against The Years. Watercolour 1970

An Acre Of Land Montgomeryshire Printing Company. Newtown 1952
Song At The Years Turning Rupert Hart Davis. London 1955
Poetry For Supper Rupert Hart Davis. London 1958
Tares Rupert Hart Davis. London 1961
The Bread Of Truth Rupert Hart Davis. London 1963
Not That He Brought Flowers Rupert Hart Davis. London 1968
Young And Old Chatto and Windus.London 1972
Laboratories Of The Spirit MacMillan. London 1975
The Way Of It. Ceolfrith Press. Sunderland 1977
Frequencies MacMillan. London 1978
Between Here And Now MacMillan. London 1981
Later Poems MacMillan. London 1983
Destinations Celandine Press. Shipston 1985
In My Garden Medici Society. London 1986
Mass For Hard Times Bloodaxe. Newcastle upon Tyne 1992
Residues Bloodaxe. Tarset 2002

Realised at
Senavilla Bangkapi
Gwydion Thomas
Kunjana Thomas
Rhodri's Birthday
January 2002

Ten Copies
Japanese papers
Ordinary copies
Mulberry Paper Wrappers

this copy number

the frangipani press

c. Rhodri Thomas 2002

posted by thomas | 8:25 AM

Saturday, October 12, 2002  

I am not Dante

Your volume to hand

posted by thomas | 3:26 AM

Tuesday, September 17, 2002  

SORRY......we are off for whenever....we have some heartrending medical problems with the Babe...which are getting worse.....so.cannot really find the space for this for a while

posted by thomas | 10:52 AM

Friday, September 13, 2002  

August 1949
To The Editor The Western Mail
Welsh in World Literature
Dear Sir
I cannot take seriously Mr. B.P. Rees's statement that many people agree with him but are afraid to say so publicly. One of the curses of Wales is that there are too many people who are anxious and ready to proclaim their unpatriotic views in public.
And what I dislike most about Mr. Rees's smug homilies is that love, honour and duty have no place in them. His attitude to the English-Welsh question is that of the child who says, "My father has a thousand pounds, yours has only a hundred." He trots out some of the giants of world literature in their rather jaded armour and challenges Wales to do the same. Such a process can lead only to futile argument, and bickering and in the end to the substitution of subjective for objective values.
Surely scholars of the stature of William Morgan, Salesbury and Edmund Prys had no doubts about the greatness of Latin, Greek and English culture, but instead of following the lead of place-hunting squires, instead of seeing what profit they could suck out of another nation, they laboured and toiled to create their own literature and to hand on a tradition to posterity. Without such men any nation is doomed.
R.S.Thomas. Manafon Rectory, Montgomery.

posted by Incorrigible | 9:00 AM

Tuesday, September 10, 2002  

Thursdy 19 Jan
My dear............
Thank you for your letter. I enclose the first MacMillan contract and the next but last. The option clause has crept in, but I did not jib, seeing, apart from Faber, no more advantageous London publisher. They paid £2000 in advance of royalties-£1000 a time- for 'The Echoes'. I don't suppose Bloodaxe could come near that. I don't know why their percentages were better in 1972 than they are now. I hadn't noticed, actually.
I find the whole situation rather perplexing. I have by now squeezed the orange pretty dry. The lyrical impulse, the fresh upsurge from the subconscious, which is poetry at its best is more or less finished, and I keep repeating myself, only to screw up the result and stuff it in the waste basket. It seems unlikely, therefore, that I shall produce much more of interest. I have one type-script, containing up-to-standard work, which is waiting for MacMillan at some future date. I shall have to offer it to them according to contract, but I don't want to publish again too soon. That leaves me with a whole lot of residues of something of the calibre of 'The Echoes'.
This is where perplexity begins. I published 'Echoes' for dubious reasons, and it gave me a bit of cash, but no comfort. I could do the same with Bloodaxe, but I don't like it. My instincts tell me it is better to publish the next as the "best I could do" and leave it at that. At least I will have thought they were good! As you know, in gathering together for a book, you can't just choose 50 of the best, because with a poet like me there will be a sameness about them. This means sometimes including a few less good ones for variety's sake; and so you get residues.
You know what I feel about the London reviewers like Peter Porter and co. who have got themselves on to the London papers. Their slick and snide comments don't worry me, but, as I say above, one must be able to feel that the work is good, however subjective one is being. One piece of information you might get out of A is what gets one's books onto the shop shelves; and you could ask MacMillan why not? Yes-readings of Iron Curtain Poets at the South Bank on Friday + Sat. Feb 24/25. I am to read translations of a Yugoslav-Gojko Djogu on Sat but would like to stay with you Sat. and Sun. night if that is not inconvenient. Much...........

posted by Incorrigible | 4:47 AM

Sunday, September 08, 2002  

Today's variorum tip:
The original version of The Minister has :

"He never listened to the moor's
Silence speaking to the slow
Silence within..."..

This was first changed to "He never listened to the moor's/Music calling to the hushed/Music within and finally to..
"the hill's/ Music..."
As you know extant substantive alterations to texts are unusual.

posted by thomas | 7:57 PM

Saturday, September 07, 2002  

THE SHAME OF CRAIG RAINE and some other nice things..including lots of pictures!!

posted by thomas | 7:10 AM

Thursday, September 05, 2002  

Here is a QUESTION for all you scholars about to turn in for another long instructional haul.........
WHAt does............"the brimmed rabbit" MEAN??
And I wont tell you in which poem to FIND IT

This brought on by my friend Peter who said: You could launch a hundred websites and weblogs on phrases from RS!!
So we started with The Brimmed Rabbit which sounds sort of a cross between Beachcomber and a Fulham Road Pub, but also with poachers overtones. (Someone in Ynys Mon wrote a book about poachers and quoted that poem... I mean:

Turning aside, never meeting
In the still lanes

Then...the strict palate..green aisles...green categories... the incorrigible cuckoo .. inaudible screaming .. brushed eyes...sharptooth (no orthodontists should apply) atreeundressing....thewayofit...greatwaters... (www.greywater(s) appears to be an effluvient treatment process ...love's mirror ... love's lookingglass ...the lit bush.....and then we came to The Bright Field and lo and behold there IS a weblog called that! themos100's Xanga Site and it is nice to find someone over the age of thirtysomething also writing these things!...and if you trawl around there..yes he was reading RS.

posted by thomas | 6:43 AM

Monday, September 02, 2002  

Kevin Perryman BABEL Verlag has kindly (and at vast expense-what is the problem with EU postal services?) sent me copies of Das Helle Feld, Frieze and Laubbaum Sprache. I am slowly building another set of books. I should probably try and replace RS's library too-the contents of which I am probably the only person who can remember! Somewhere in it there is a copy of Dock Leaves with a list of books 'to buy', and on the cover of a proof copy of SATYT there was a booklist too. Maybe Peter has them? In later life he was very averse to buying books, preferring the lottery of Gwynedd's mobile library. Though he did take during the 'CND' years to gooing to the library in Penlan street. I think he hardly ever bought a book in Bangor, though he did go to the bookshop...see this quote from a letter dated Monday 23rd (1988?):..
Thank you for your letter.....I was in Bangor a week ago. The impression I got from Galloways was that, apart from Faber perhaps, they don't re-order.The last time I was there-many months ago-there was 1 copy of Tomlinson's 'Collected Poems'. Since someone was foolish enough to buy that, the niche is now empty.The same applies to the one or two Bloodaxe that they had............

posted by thomas | 10:47 PM

The Vicar will now lead us
In prayer. Where to, Lord, who have put
Yourself so close we
Have nowhere to go to
Find you. Take our hand,
Indeed! You have no hand
To hold us by, no voice
To address us. All your thoughts
Are closed to us and your ways
Strange. Our missiles return
Empty; the microscope proves
You are not. If I should speak
To them, Lord, how will they hear
You breathing, as I do myself?

posted by thomas | 10:04 PM

Thursday, August 29, 2002  

(Nice) Reta Carden from Mayville NY has sent the copy of H'm.
She is nice because she was so patient while UK banks worked out how to send a few dollars to NY. And even more patient while PayPal tried to work out whether it could possibly allow you to open PayPal from a Thai ISP!!
Of course, as is the way with booksellers , it turns out not to be the first edition but the US first edition. However since I don't think anyone ever thought there was such a thing it is not without interest. It is the UK sheets with a MacMillan/St Martin's Press title page. It has a Library of Congress Number 72-79154 and a dustjacket with a $4.95 price tag and St.Martin's on the spine. The boards are brown with H'M and ST.MARTIN'S in caps! Was the UK edition not in gray boards? John Harris (A Bibliographical Guide to Twenty-Four Modern Anglo-Welsh Writers UWP 1994) does not say; and my copy is not here. But then he does not mention this ed. There was a David Godine edition of Laboratories of the Spirit. I now wonder if there was a US edition of Frequencies?
I also wonder if MacMillan did not do something peculiar like split the edition between US and UK sheets. It was the first MacMillan book-thanks to Kevin Crossley Holland. I have not seen a secondhand copy in more than 10 years. Even the paperback is uncommon. The hardback is by far the scarcest of the 'normal' editions post SATYT 1955. Why? Frequencies and LOS are common books. While on this--the other book I have never seen is the Japanese edition of SATYT. RS never had a copy.

From H'm -Not printed in Collected Poems -is this:


You say the word
'God'. I cancel
It with a smile.
You make a smile proof
That God is. I try
A new gambit. Look,
I say, the wide air-
Empty. You listen
To it as one hearing
The God breathe.
Shout, then,
I cry: waken
The unseen sleeper; let
Him come forth, history
Yearns for him.
You smile
Now in your turn,
Putting a finger
To my lips, not cancelling
My cry, pardoning it
Under the green tree
Where history nailed him.

posted by thomas | 9:52 PM

Wednesday, August 28, 2002  


Ap Huw's Testament

There are four verses to put down
For the four people in my life,
Father, mother, wife

And the one child. Let me begin
With her of the immaculate brow
My wife; she loves me. I know how.

My mother gave me the breast's milk
Generously, but grew mean after,
Envying me my detached laughter.

My father was a passionate man,
Wrecked after leaving the sea
In her love's shallows. He grieves in me.

What shall I say of my boy,
Tall, fair? He is young yet;
Keep his feet free of the world's net.

The Son

It was your mother wanted you:
you were already half-formed
when I entered. But can I deny
the hunger, the loneliness bringing me in
from myself? And when you appeared
before me, there was no repentance
for what I had done, as there was shame
in the doing it; compassion only
for that which was too small to be called
human. The unfolding of your hands
was plant-like, your ear was the shell
I thundered in; your cries. when they came,
were those of a blind creature
trodden upon: pain not yet become grief.


Come to me a moment, stand,
Ageing yet lovely still,
At my side, let me tell you that,
With the clouds massing for attack
And the wind worrying the leaves
From the branches and the blood seeping
Thin and slow through the ventricles
Of the heart, I regret less,
Looking back on the poem's
Weakness, the failure of the mind
To be clever than of the heart
To deserve you as you showed how.

posted by thomas | 6:55 PM


My luminary.
my morning and evening
star. My light at noon
when there is no sun
and the sky lowers. My balance
of joy in a world
that has gone off joy's
standard. Yours the face
that young I recognised
as though I had known you
of old. Come, my eyes
said, out into the morning
of a world whose dew
waits for your footprint.
Before a green altar
with the thrush for priest
I took those gossamer
vows that neither the Church
could stale nor the Machine
tarnish, that with the years
have grown hard as flint,
lighter than platinum
on our ringless fingers.

posted by thomas | 6:39 PM

Sunday, August 25, 2002  

Ancestors/genealogy now links. Inaccurate typing on my part, of course. But you can still go to antony maitland's site and search it for R.S.Thomas.

posted by thomas | 10:07 AM