A message from God delivered by a bird at my window, offering friendship. Listen, such language! Who said God was without speech? Every word an injection to make me smile. Meet me, it says, to-morrow here at the same time and you will remember how wonderful to-day was: no pain, no worry; irrelevant the mystery, if unsolved. I gave you the X-ray eye for you to use not to prospect, but to discover the un-malignancy of love's growth. You were a patient, too, anaesthetised on truth's table with life operating on you with a green scalpel. Meet me, I say, to-morrow and I will sing it for you all over again, when you have come to.
'Rest a while,' says the muse, but I press on losing myself between the dictionary and the blank page. Wisdom advises, 'Call ber bluff and she'll come cringing.' But I am all nerves, running vocabulary through my fingers, faster and faster. And somewhere before me is the great poem, wrapped in its stillness, that I fool myself into thinking I will overtake soon by putting on speed.
This is pain's landscape. A savage agriculture is practised Here; every farm has its Grandfather or grandmother, gnarled hands On the cheque-book, a long, slow Pull on the placenta about the neck. Old lips monopolise the talk When a friend calls. The children listen From the kitchen; the children march With angry patience against the dawn. They are waiting for someone to die Whose name is as bitter as the soil They handle. In clear pools In the furrows they watch themselves grow old To the terrible accompaniment of the song Of the blackbird, that promises them love.
By R.S. Thomas from Not That He Brought Flowers (1968)
Top left an angel hovering. Top right the attendance of a star. From both bottom corners devils look up, relishing in prospect a divine meal. How old at the centre the child's face gazing into love's too human face, like one prepared for it to have its way and continue smiling?
By R. S. Thomas from Counterpoint 2. Incarnation (1990)
The Nativity? No. Something has gone wrong. There is a hole in the stable acid rain drips through onto an absence. Beauty is hoisted upside down. The truth is Pilate not lingering for an answer. The angels are prostrate 'beaten into the clay' as Yeats thundered. Only Satan beams down, poisoning with fertilisers the place where the child lay, harrowing the ground for the drumming of the machine- gun tears of the rich that are seed of the next war.
By R. S. Thomas from Counterpoint (1990) 2. Incarnation