You remain contented
with your anonymity.
We ask for survival
for John Jones.
We acknowledge the tree
that at moments
you are ablaze in,
taking our shoes
off, involuntarily remembering
there is dung at its roots.
They say there is a pool
at the bottom of which
you lie, and that we ourselves
are the troublers
of its surface. But why,
when we look down,
is it as though
we looked up at our own faces
at home there among the cloud branches?
by R. S. Thomas
from Mass for Hard Times (1992)
The John Jones mentioned in this poem is better known by his bardic name Jac Glan-y-gors. He was a Welsh language satirical poet and radical pamphleteer, born in Cerrigydrudion, Denbighshire, north Wales. He was an accomplished and natural prose writer although his output was small. His best known prose works are Seren Tan Gwmmwl and Toriad y Dydd, political tracts addressed to the Welsh people which reflect the radical ideals of Thomas Paine and the author’s Welsh patriotism.
His poetical output is more considerable and includes the poem entitled Cerdd Dic Siôn Dafydd
(Dic Siôn Dafydd – Richard son of John son of David – is the name given
to a Welshman who despises his language and who imitates the English.
Moments of great calm,
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer, waiting for the God
To speak; the air a staircase
For silence; the sun’s light
Ringing me, as though I acted
A great rôle. And the audiences
Still; all that close throng
Of spirits waiting, as I,
For the message.
Prompt me, God;
But not yet. When I speak,
Though it be you who speak
Through me, something is lost.
The meaning is in the waiting.
by R. S. Thomas
from Not That He Brought Flowers (1968)
It is in the hands of other people
that supply the needs of our bodies,
both in our infancy and beyond.
For each of us lives in and through
an immense movement
of the hands of other people.
The hands of other people lift us from the womb.
The hands of other people grow the food we eat,
weave the clothes we wear and
build the shelters we inhabit.
the hands of other people give pleasure to our bodies
in moments of passion
and aid and comfort in times of affliction and distress.
It is in and through the hands of other people
that the commonwealth of nature is appropriated
and accommodated to the needs of pleasures
of our seperate, individual lives, and,
at the end,
it is the hands of other people that lower us into the earth.
by James Stockinger