Pisces by R. S. Thomas

Who said to the trout,

You shall die on Good Friday

To be food  for a man

And his pretty lady?

 

It was I, said God,

Who formed the roses

In the delicate flesh

And the tooth that bruises.

 

by R. S. Thomas

from Song at the Year’s Turning (1955)

No Through Road by R. S. Thomas

All in vain. I will cease now

My long absorption with the plough,

With the tame and the wild creatures

And man united with the earth.

I have failed after many seasons

To bring truth to birth,

And nature’s simple equations

In the mind’s precincts do not apply.

 

But where to turn? Earth endures

After the passing, necessary shame

Of winter, and the old lie

Of green places beckons me still

From the new world, ugly and evil,

That men pry for in truth’s name.

 

by R. S. Thomas

from Song At The Year’s Turning (1955)

Invasion On The Farm by R. S. Thomas

I am Prytherch. Forgive me. I don’t know

What you  are talking about; your thoughts flow

Too swiftly for me; I cannot dawdle

Along their banks and fish in their quick stream

With crude fingers. I am alone, exposed

In my own fields with no place to run

From your sharp eyes. I, who a moment back

Paddled in the bright grass, the old farm

Warm as a sack about me, feel the cold

Winds of the world blowing. The patching gate

You left open will never be shut again.

 

by R. S. Thomas

from Song At The Year’s Turning (1955)

The Return by R. S. Thomas

Coming home was to that:

The white house in the cool grass

Membraned with shadow, the bright stretch

Of stream that was its looking-glass;

 

And smoke growing above the roof

To a tall tree among whose boughs

The first stars renewed their theme

Of time and death and a man’s vows.

 

by R. S. Thomas

from Song At The Year’s Turning (1955)

January by R. S. Thomas

The fox drags its wounded belly

Over the snow, the crimson seeds

Of blood burst with a mild explosion,

Soft as excrement, bold as roses.

 

Over the snow that feels no pity,

Whose white hands can give no healing,

The fox drags its wounded belly.

 

by R. S. Thomas

from Song At The Year’s Turning (1955)

In A Country Church by R. S. Thomas

To one kneeling down no word came,

Only the wind’s song, saddening the lips

Of the grave saints, rigid in glass;

Or the dry whisper of unseen wings,

Bats not angels, in the high roof.

 

Was he balked by the silence? He kneeled long,

And saw love in a dark crown

Of thorns blazing, and a winter tree

Golden with fruit of a man’s body.

 

by R. S. Thomas

From Song At The Year’s Turning (1955)

The Village by R. S. Thomas

Scarcely a street, too few houses

To merit the title; just a way between

The one tavern and the one shop

That leads nowhere and fails at the top

Of the short hill, eaten away

By long erosion of the green tide

Of grass creeping perpetually nearer

This last outpost of time past.

 

So little happens; the black dog

Cracking his fleas in the hot sun

Is history. Yet the girl who crosses

From door to door moves to a scale

Beyond the bland day’s two dimensions.

 

Stay, then, village, for round you spins

On slow axis a world as vast

And meaningful as any poised

By great Plato’s solitary mind.

 

by R. S. Thomas

from Song At The Year’s Turning (1955)