There was Dai Puw. He was no good.
They put him in the fields to dock swedes,
And took the knife from him, when he came home
At late evening with a grin
Like the slash of a knife on his face.
There was Llew Puw, and he was no good.
Every evening after the ploughing
With the big tractor he would sit in his chair,
And stare into the tangled fire garden,
Opening his slow lips like a snail.
There was Huw Puw, too. What shall I say?
I have heard him whistling in the hedges
On and on, as though winter
Would never again leave those fields,
And all the trees were deformed.
And lastly there was the girl:
Beauty under some spell of the beast.
Her pale face was the lantern
By which they read in life's dark book
The shrill sentence: God is love.
by R. S. Thomas
from The Bread of Truth (1963)
Returning from a raid,
just missed the tower
where, over the West Door
the Wild Man with oak leaves
wound round his body
faces the Dragon
wreathed in vines.
Crash landed at Church Farm,
ploughing itself in,
churning up the loam.
Two crew dead.
The Flight Engineer
the old country, resuming
his portion of the pasture.
by Jeremy Hooker
from ‘Debris‘ a sequence of poems
When I close my eyes, I can see it,
That bare hill with the man ploughing,
Corrugating that brown roof
Under a hard sky. Under him is the farm,
Anchored in its grass harbour;
And below that the valley
Sheltering its few folk,
With the school and the inn and the church,
The beginning, middle and end
Of their slow journey above ground.
He is never absent, but like a slave
Answers to the mind’s bidding,
Endlessly ploughing, as though autumn
Were the one season he knew.
Sometimes he pauses to look down
To the grey farmhouse, but no signals
Cheer him; there is no applause
For his long wrestling with the angel
Of no name. I can see his eye
That expects nothing, that has the rain’s
Colourlessness. His hands are broken
But not his spirit. He is like bark
Weathering on the tree of his kind.
He will go on; that muh is certain.
Beneath him tenancies of the fields
Will change; machinery turn
All to noise. But on the walls
Of the mind’s gallery that face
With the hills framing it will hang
Unglorified, but stern like the soil.
by R.S. Thomas
from Pieta (1966)