On The Farm by R. S. Thomas

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)

Lucky Strike by Jeremy Hooker

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

periodically revisits

the old country, resuming

his portion of the pasture.


by Jeremy Hooker

from ‘Debris‘ a sequence of poems

The Face by R.S. Thomas

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)