The River by R. S. Thomas

And the cobbled water

Of the stream with the trout’s indelible

Shadows that winter

Has not erased – I walk it

Again under a clean

Sky with the fish, speckled like thrushes,

Silently singing among the weed’s


I bring the heart

Not the mind to the interpretation

Of their music, letting the stream

Comb me, feeling it fresh

In my veins, revisiting the sources

That are as near now

As on the morning I set out from them.


by R. S. Thomas

from H’m (1972)

Acting by R. S. Thomas

Being unwise enough to marry her

I never knew when she was not acting.

‘I love you’ she would say; I heard the audiences

Sigh. ‘I hate you’; I could never be sure

They were still there. She was lovely. I

Was only the looking-glass she made up in.

I husbanded the rippling meadow

Of her body. Their eyes grazed nightly upon it.


Alone now on the brittle platform

Of herself she is playing her last role.

It is perfect. Never in all her career

Was she so good. And yet the curtain

Has fallen. My chamber, come out from behind

It to take the applause. Look, I am clapping too.


by R. S. Thomas

from H’m (1972)