R S Thomas, ‘Lore’

‘Lore’

Job Davies, eighty-five
Winters old, and still alive
After the slow poison
And treachery of the seasons.

Miserable? Kick my arse!
It needs more than the rain’s hearse,
Wind-drawn to pull me off
The great perch of my laugh.

What’s living but courage?
Paunch full of hot porridge
Nerves strengthened with tea,
Peat-black, dawn found me

Mowing where the grass grew,
Bearded with golden dew.
Rhythm of the long scythe
Kept this tall frame lithe

What to do? Stay green.
Never mind the machine,
Whose fuel is human souls
Live large, man, and dream small.

R.S. Thomas (1913 – 2000) was an anglo-Welsh poet. He was an ordained in the Anglican Church and spent most of his life in rural North Wales. His poems are full of tensions: faith v. doubt, welsh nationalism v. anger at Wales’s own inability to preserve its culture, rural life v. city life, modernity v. the past. A lot of people think he’s depressing but I absolutely love his poetry and find it full of life.  His nature poetry is also amazing.

I spent my childhood in West Wales and I well remember men like Job Davies stamping over the hills in the rain, trousers tied with twine, going to check on their sheep.