A simple man,
He liked the crease on the water
His cast made, but had no pity
For the broken backbone
Of water or fish.
One of his pleasures, thirsty,
Was to ask a drink
At the hot farms;
Leaving with a casual thank you,
As though they owed it him.
I could have told of the living water
That springs pure.
He would have smiled then,
Dancing his speckled fly in the shallows,
by R. S. Thomas
from Not That He Brought Flowers (1968)
The archer with time
as his arrow – has he broken
his strings that the rainbow
is so quiet over our village?
Let us stand, then in the interval
of our wounding, till the silence
turn golden and love is
a moment eternally overflowing.
by R. S. Thomas
from No Truce With the Furies (1995)
We remember wartime
The leaves were red
And skies were tight.
Singers in uniform
Cracked burst buckled
The living the key workers
The throats of loyal trumpets
The minds of washed out cockpits
Our prayers were pistons
Our leaders in bunkers
As indestructable as rats
The tongues and necks
Of true survivors
In one cold wood
A headless boy
A thin man prays
In his own blood
On every side
Wait to be counted
In old blood
Are not doors
They are the walls
Of empty tombs
At stated times
By true survivors
by Emyr Humphreys
Fun fact: He registered as a conscientious objector in the Second World War, working on a farm, and later doing relief work in Egypt and Italy. After the war he worked as a teacher, as a radio producer at the BBC and later became a lecturer in drama at Bangor University.
So many requests, always, from a lover!
None when they fall out of love.
I’m glad the water does not move
Under the colourless ice of the river.
And I’ll stand – God help me! – on this ice,
However light and brittle it is,
And you… take care of our letters,
That our descendants not misjudge us,
That they may read and understand
More clearly what you are, wise, brave.
In your glorious biography
No row of dots should stand.
Earth’s drink is much too sweet,
Love’s nets too close together.
May my name be in the textbooks
Of children playing in the street.
When they’ve read my grievous story,
May they smile behind their desklids…
If I can’t have love, if I can’t find peace,
Give me a bitter glory.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1913)
– from Четки (Rosary, 1914), translation by D. M. Thomas