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Ronald Stuart Thomas
Born March 29, 1913(1913-03-29)
Cardiff, Wales
Died September 25, 2000 (aged 87)

Ronald Stuart Thomas (29 March 1913 – 25 September 2000) (published as R. S. Thomas) was a Welsh poet and Anglican clergyman, noted for his nationalism, spirituality and deep dislike of the anglicisation of Wales. He was one of the most famous Welsh poets.

In 1955, John Betjeman, in his introduction to the first collection of Thomas’s poetry to be produced by a major publisher, Song at the Year's Turning, predicted that Thomas would be remembered long after Betjeman himself was forgotten.

Professor M. Wynn Thomas said: "He was the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn of Wales because he was such a troubler of the Welsh conscience. He was one of the major English language and European poets of the 20th century."

Contents

Life

R. S. Thomas was born in Cardiff, the only child of Thomas Hubert and Margaret (née Davis). The family moved to Holyhead in 1918 because of his father's work in the merchant navy. He was awarded a bursary in 1932 to study at the University College of North Wales, Bangor, where he read Classics. In 1936, having completed his theological training at St. Michael's College, Llandaff, he was ordained as a priest in the Church in Wales. From 1936 to 1940 he was the curate of Chirk, Denbighshire, where he met his future wife, Mildred (Elsi) Eldridge, an English artist. He subsequently became curate at Tallarn Green, Flintshire.

They married in 1940 and remained together until her death in 1991. Their son, Gwydion, was born 29 August 1945. The Thomas family lived on a tiny income and lacked the comforts of modern life, largely by the poet's choice. One of the few household amenities the family ever owned, a vacuum cleaner, was rejected because Thomas decided it was too noisy.[1]

For twelve years, from 1942 to 1954, Thomas was rector at Manafon, in rural Montgomeryshire. It was during his time at Manafon that he first began to study Welsh and that he published his first three volumes of poetry, The Stones of the Field, An Acre of Land and The Minister.

Thomas' poetry achieved a breakthrough with the publication of his fourth book Song at the Year's Turning, in effect a collected edition of his first three volumes, which was critically very well received and opened with Betjeman's famous introduction. His position was also helped by winning the Royal Society of Literature's Heinemann Award.

He learnt the Welsh language at age 30,[1] too late in life, he said, to be able to write poetry in it. The 1960s saw him working in a predominantly Welsh speaking community and he later wrote two prose works in Welsh, Neb (English: Nobody), an ironic and revealing autobiography written in the third person, and Blwyddyn yn Llŷn, (English: A Year in Llŷn). In 1964 he won the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.

He retired from the church in 1978, and he and his wife relocated to "a tiny, unheated cottage in one of the most beautiful parts of Wales — where, however, the temperature sometimes dipped below freezing", according to Theodore Dalrymple.[1]

Free from the constraints of the church he was able to become more political and active in the campaigns that were important to him. He became a fierce advocate of Welsh nationalism, although he never supported Plaid Cymru because he believed they did not go far enough in their opposition to England.

In 1996 he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature [2] (the winner that year was Seamus Heaney). After his death at age 87,[3] an event celebrating his life and poetry was held in Westminster Abbey with readings from Heaney, Andrew Motion, Gillian Clarke and John Burnside. R S Thomas's ashes are buried close to the door of St. John's Church, Porthmadog, Gwynedd.

Although he was a clergyman, he wasn't always charitable and was known for being awkward and taciturn. Some critics have interpreted photographs of him as indicating he was "formidable, bad-tempered, and apparently humorless".[1]

Beliefs

Thomas was an ardent supporter of CND and described himself as a pacifist, but he supported the Meibion Glyndŵr fire-bombings of English-owned holiday cottages in rural Wales. On this subject he said "what is one death against the death of the whole Welsh nation?"[4]

He was also active in wildlife preservation and worked with the RSPB and other, Welsh, volunteer organisations for the preservation of the Red kite. Typically he resigned his RSPB membership over their plans to introduce non-native kites to Wales.

The poet's son, Gwydion, a resident of Thailand, recalls his father's sermons, in which he would "drone on" to absurd lengths about the evil of refrigerators, washing machines, televisions and other modern devices. Thomas preached that they were all part of the temptation of scrambling after gadgets rather than attending to more spiritual needs. "It was the Machine, you see," Gwydion explained to a biographer. "This to a congregation that didn’t have any of these things and were longing for them."[1]

Although he may have taken some ideas to extreme lengths, Theodore Dalrymple wrote, Thomas "was raising a deep and unanswered question: What is life for? Is it simply to consume more and more, and divert ourselves with ever more elaborate entertainments and gadgetry? What will this do to our souls?"[1]

Works

Almost all of Thomas' work concerns his twin passions, the Welsh landscape and the Welsh people. Underlying these twin themes are the politics. Even simple, lyrical descriptions of a hillside or a field can be read as a political statement. His views on the position of the Welsh people, as a conquered people are never far below the surface. His religious views, as might be expected from a clergyman, are also present in his works.

These concerns mark out his work as particularly distinctive and, perhaps, an easy subject for satire. The reader, though, is left in very little doubt as to the poet's sincerity and commitment. His earlier works focus on the personal stories of his parishioners, the farm labourers and working men and their wives. He shatters the cosy view of the traditional 'pastoral' poem with harsh and vivid descriptions of life as it was lived.

The beauty of the landscape, although ever-present, is never suggested as a compensation for the low pay or monotonous conditions of farm work. This direct view of 'country life' comes as a challenge to many English writers writing on similar subjects. It might even be seen as a challenge to his more famous contemporary Dylan Thomas.

His later works were of a more metaphysical nature, more experimental and focusing more upon his spirituality. Laboratories of the Spirit (published in 1975) gives, in its title, a hint at this change in subject matter. Thomas described this shift as an investigation into the 'adult geometry of the mind'.

He also experimented with publishing poetry alongside original artworks by other artists.

Despite his nationalism Thomas could be hard on his fellow countrymen. Often his works read as more of a criticism of Welshness than a celebration. He himself said there is a "lack of love for human beings" in his poetry. Other critics have not been so harsh. Al Alvarez said: "He was wonderful, very pure, very bitter but the bitterness was beautifully and very sparely rendered. He was completely authoritative, a very, very fine poet . . . "

Thomas' final works commonly sold 20,000 copies in Britain alone.[1]

Publications

  • The Stones of the Field (1946)
  • An Acre of Land (1952)
  • The Minister (1953)
  • Song at the Year's Turning (1955)
  • Poetry for Supper (1958)
  • Tares, [Corn-weed] (1961)
  • The Bread of Truth (1963)
  • Words and the Poet (1964, lecture)
  • Pietà (1966)
  • Not That He Brought Flowers (1968)
  • H'm (1972)
  • What is a Welshman? (1974)
  • Laboratories of the Spirit (1975)
  • Abercuawg (1976, lecture)
  • The Way of It (1977)
  • Frequencies (1978)
  • Between Here and Now (1981)
  • Ingrowing Thoughts (1985)
  • Neb (1985) in Welsh, autobiography, written in the third person
  • Experimenting with an Amen (1986)
  • Welsh Airs (1987)
  • The Echoes Return Slow (1988)
  • Counterpoint (1990)
  • Blwyddyn yn Llŷn (1990) in Welsh
  • Pe Medrwn Yr Iaith : ac ysgrifau eraill ed. Tony Brown & Bedwyr L. Jones, essays in Welsh (1990)
  • Mass for Hard Times (1992)
  • No Truce with the Furies (1995)
  • Autobiographies (1997, collection of prose writings)
  • Residues (2002, posthumously)

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g [1]Dalrymple, Theodore, "A Man Out of Time: A life of poet R. S. Thomas entertains and illumines", a review of The Man Who Went into the West: The Life of R. S. Thomas, by Byron Rogers, in City Journal, 6 November 2006, accessed 30 December 2006
  2. ^ R S Thomas nominated for Nobel prize at independent.co.uk
  3. ^ BBC News Wales: RS Thomas - Wales' s outspoken poet
  4. ^ http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=3sQX4Nyk1UIC&pg=PA28&lpg=PA28&dq
  • Passannanti, Erminia. Liriche alla svolta del Millennio. Poesia di R.S. Thomas, Lecce: Manni editore, 1998.
  • Morgan, Christopher. R.S. Thomas: Identity, environment, and deity. Manchester: Manchester U. P., 2003. ISBN 0-7190-6248-9
  • Brown, Tony. R.S. Thomas (Writers of Wales series). Cardiff: Univ. of Wales P., 2006. ISBN 0-7083-1800-2
  • Morgan, Barry. Strangely Orthodox: R.S.Thomas and his Poetry of Faith. Llandysul: Gomer, 2006. ISBN 1-84323-682-6.
  • Rogers, Byron. The Man Who Went Into The West, The Life of R. S. Thomas. London: Aurum Press, 2006. ISBN 1-84513-146-0

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

I have been all men known to history,
Wondering at the world and at time passing;
I have seen evil, and the light blessing
Innocent love under a spring sky.

Ronald Stuart Thomas (29 March 191325 September 2000), published as R. S. Thomas, was a Welsh poet and Anglican Clergyman, noted for his nationalism and spirituality.

Contents

Sourced

"Who am I?", and the answer now came more emphatically than ever before, "No-one."
But a no-one with a crown of light about his head.
You have to imagine
a waiting that is not impatient
because it is timeless.
The world needs the unifying power of the imagination. The two things that give it best are poetry and religion.
I think that so much of our Christian beliefs ... are an attempt to convey through language something which is unsayable.
  • The nearest we approach God…is as creative beings. The poet, by echoing the primary imagination, recreates. Through his work he forces those who read him to do the same, thus bringing them... nearer to the actual being of God as displayed in action.
    • The Penguin Book of Religious Verse (1963), p. 8
  • Any form of orthodoxy is just not part of a poet's province ... A poet must be able to claim ... freedom to follow the vision of poetry, the imaginative vision of poetry ... And in any case, poetry is religion, religion is poetry. The message of the New Testament is poetry. Christ was a poet, the New Testament is metaphor, the Resurrection is a metaphor; and I feel perfectly within my rights in approaching my whole vocation as priest and preacher as one who is to present poetry; and when I preach poetry I am preaching Christianity, and when one discusses Christianity one is discussing poetry in its imaginative aspects. ... My work as a poet has to deal with the presentation of imaginative truth.
    • "R. S. Thomas : Priest and Poet" (BBC TV, 2 April 1972)
  • Imaginative truth is the most immediate way of presenting ultimate reality to a human being ... ultimate reality is what we call God.
    • "R. S. Thomas : Priest and Poet" (BBC TV, 2 April 1972)
  • On seeing his shadow fall on such ancient rocks, he had to question himself in a different context and ask the same old question as before, "Who am I?", and the answer now came more emphatically than ever before, "No-one."
    But a no-one with a crown of light about his head.
    He would remember a verse from Pindar: "Man is a dream about a shadow. But when some splendour falls upon him from God, a glory comes to him and his life is sweet."
    • Neb [No-one] (1985)
  • You have to imagine
    a waiting that is not impatient
    because it is timeless.
    • "The Echoes Return Slow" in The Echoes Return Slow (1988)
  • Let despair be known
    as my ebb-tide
    ; but let prayer
    have its springs, too, brimming,
    disarming him; discovering somewhere
    among his fissures deposits of mercy
    where trust may take root and grow.
    • "Tidal" in Mass for Hard Times (1992), p. 43
  • Now the power of the imagination is a unifying power, hence the force of metaphor; and the poet is the supreme manipulator of metaphor... the world needs the unifying power of the imagination. The two things that give it best are poetry and religion.
    • Selected Prose (1995), p. 131
  • I'm obviously not orthodox, I don't know how many real poets have ever been orthodox.
    • "R. S. Thomas in conversation with Molly Price-Owen." in The David Jones Journal R. S. Thomas Special Issue (Summer/Autumn 2001)
  • I wouldn't say that I'm an orthodox Christian at all and the longer we live in the twentieth century the more fantastic discoveries are made, the more we hear what the universe is like I find it very difficult to be a kind of orthodox believer in Jesus as my saviour and that sort of thing. I'm more interested in the extraordinary nature of God. If there is God, if there is deity, then He, even as the old hymn says, He moves in a mysterious way and I'm fascinated by that mystery and I've tried to write out of that experience of God, the fantastic side of God, the quarrel between the conception of God as a person, as having a human side, and the conception of God as being so extraordinary. ... So these are still things that occupy me, and every now and again, if you're lucky, you're able to make a poem out of this conception of God ... so I suppose I'm trying to appeal to people to open their eyes and their minds to the extraordinary nature of God.
    • "R. S. Thomas in conversation with Molly Price-Owen." in The David Jones Journal R. S. Thomas Special Issue (Summer/Autumn 2001)
  • True Christianity at its most profound is as good as you get. ... I think I've been lucky in the period which I've lived through because obviously I would have been for the chop in earlier days. The Inquisition would have rooted me out; even in the 19th century I would probably have been had up by a Bishop and asked to change my views, or to keep them to myself etc.... I think that so much of our Christian beliefs ... are an attempt to convey through language something which is unsayable.
    • "R. S. Thomas in conversation with Molly Price-Owen." in The David Jones Journal R. S. Thomas Special Issue (Summer/Autumn 2001)

Poetry For Supper (1958)

Sunlight's a thing that needs a window
Before it enter a dark room.
Windows don't happen.
A slow singer, but loading each phrase
With history’s overtones, love, joy
And grief learned by his dark tribe
In other orchards and passed on
Instinctively as they are now,
But fresh always with new tears.
  • "Sunlight's a thing that needs a window
    Before it enter a dark room.
    Windows don't happen."

    So two old poets,
    Hunched at their beer in the low haze
    Of an inn parlour, while the talk ran
    Noisily by them, glib with prose.
    • "Poetry For Supper"
  • They left no books,
    Memorial to their lonely thought
    In grey parishes: rather they wrote
    On men's hearts and in the minds
    Of young children sublime words
    Too soon forgotten. God in his time
    Or out of time will correct this.
    • "The Country Clergy"
  • It seems wrong that out of this bird,
    Black, bold, a suggestion of dark
    Places about it, there yet should come
    Such rich music, as though the notes’
    Ore were changed to a rare metal
    At one touch of that bright bill.
    • "A Blackbird Singing"
  • A slow singer, but loading each phrase
    With history’s overtones, love, joy
    And grief learned by his dark tribe
    In other orchards and passed on
    Instinctively as they are now,
    But fresh always with new tears.
    • "A Blackbird Singing"

Song at the Year's Turning (1955)

Song at the Year's Turning : Poems, 1942-1954
King, beggar and fool, I have been all by turns,
Knowing the body’s sweetness, the mind’s treason;
Taliesin still, I show you a new world, risen,
Stubborn with beauty, out of the heart’s need.
  • He arose, pacing the floor
    Strewn with books, his mind big with the poem
    Soon to be born, his nerves tense to endure
    The long torture of delayed birth.
    • "A Person From Porlock"
  • Was he balked by 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.
    • "In a Country Church"
  • I have been all men known to history,
    Wondering at the world and at time passing;
    I have seen evil, and the light blessing
    Innocent love under a spring sky.
  • I have been Merlin wandering in the woods
    Of a far country, where the winds waken
    Unnatural voices, my mind broken
    By a sudden acquaintance with man’s rage.
    • "Taliesin 1952"
  • I have known exile and a wild passion
    Of longing changing to a cold ache.
    King, beggar and fool, I have been all by turns,
    Knowing the body’s sweetness, the mind’s treason;
    Taliesin still, I show you a new world, risen,
    Stubborn with beauty, out of the heart’s need.
    • "Taliesin 1952"
  • We live in our own world,
    A world that is too small
    For you to stoop and enter
    Even on hands and knees,
    The adult subterfuge.
    • "Children’s Song"
  • You cannot find the centre
    Where we dance
    , where we play,
    Where life is still asleep
    Under the closed flower,
    Under the smooth shell
    Of eggs in the cupped nest
    That mock the faded blue
    Of your remoter heaven.
    • "Children’s Song"

Tares (1961)

All right, I was Welsh, does it matter?
My word for heaven was not yours.
The word for hell had a sharp edge
Put on it by the hand of the wind
Honing, honing with a shrill sound
Day and night.
Nothing that Glyn Dwr
Knew was armour against the rain's
Missiles.
History showed us
He was too big to be nailed to the wall
Of a stone chapel, yet still we crammed him
Between the boards of a black book.
I am like a tree,
From my top boughs I can see
The footprints that led up to me.
  • All right, I was Welsh. Does it matter?
    I spoke a tongue that was passed on
    To me in the place I happened to be,
    A place huddled between grey walls
    Of cloud for at least half the year.
    My word for heaven was not yours.
    The word for hell had a sharp edge
    Put on it by the hand of the wind
    Honing, honing with a shrill sound
    Day and night. Nothing that Glyn Dwr
    Knew was armour against the rain's
    Missiles. What was descent from him?
    • "A Welsh Testament"
  • Even God had a Welsh name:
    He spoke to him in the old language
    ;
    He was to have a peculiar care
    For the Welsh people. History showed us
    He was too big to be nailed to the wall
    Of a stone chapel, yet still we crammed him
    Between the boards of a black book.
    • "A Welsh Testament"
  • Yet men sought us despite this.
    My high cheek-bones, my length of skull
    Drew them as to a rare portrait
    By a dead master. I saw them stare
    From their long cars, as I passed knee-deep
    In ewes and wethers. I saw them stand
    By the thorn hedges, watching me string
    The far flocks on a shrill whistle.
    And always there was their eyes; strong
    Pressure on me: You are Welsh, they said;
    Speak to us so; keep your fields free
    Of the smell of petrol, the loud roar
    Of hot tractors; we must have peace
    And quietness.
    • "A Welsh Testament"
  • Is a museum
    Peace?
    I asked. Am I the keeper
    Of the heart's relics, blowing the dust
    In my own eyes? I am a man;
    I never wanted the drab role
    Life assigned me, an actor playing
    To the past's audience upon a stage
    Of earth and stone; the absurd label
    Of birth, of race hanging askew
    About my shoulders. I was in prison
    Until you came; your voice was a key
    Turning in the enormous lock
    Of hopelessness. Did the door open
    To let me out or yourselves in?
    • "A Welsh Testament"
  • I am a man now.
    Pass your hand over my brow.
    You can feel the place where the brains grow.
    • "Here"
  • I am like a tree,
    From my top boughs I can see
    The footprints that led up to me.
    • "Here"
  • There is blood in my veins
    That has run clear of the stain
    Contracted in so many loins.
    • "Here"
  • Why, then, are my hands red
    with the blood of so many dead?
    Is this where I was mislead?
    • "Here"
  • Why are my hands this way
    That they will not do as i say?
    Does no God hear when I pray?
    • "Here"
  • I have nowhere to go.
    The swift satellites show
    The clock of my whole being is slow.
    • "Here"
  • It is too late to start
    For destinations not of the heart.
    I must stay here with my hurt.
    • "Here"

The Bread of Truth (1963)

The deep spaces between stars,
Fathomless as the cold shadow
His mind cast.
  • The deep spaces between stars,
    Fathomless as the cold shadow
    His mind cast.

Pietá (1966)

  • She is young. Have I the right
    Even to name her? Child,
    It is not love I offer
    Your quick limbs, your eyes;
    Only the barren homage
    Of an old man whom time
    Crucifies.
    • "The Dance"

Laboratories of the Spirit (1975)

It is alive. It is you,
God. Looking out I can see
no death.
The darkness
is the deepening shadow
of your presence...
Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush...
  • Deliver me from the long drought
    of the mind.
    Let leaves
    from the deciduous Cross
    fall on us, washing
    us clean, turning our autumn
    to gold by the affluence of their fountain.
    • "Prayer", p. 10
  • It is alive. It is you,
    God. Looking out I can see
    no death.
    The earth moves, the
    sea moves, the wind goes
    on its exuberant
    journeys. Many creatures
    reflect you, the flowers
    your color, the tides the precision
    of your calculations. There
    is nothing too ample
    for you to overflow, nothing
    so small that your workmanship
    is not revealed.
    • "Alive", p. 51
  • The darkness
    is the deepening shadow
    of your presence; the silence a
    process in the metabolism
    of the being of love.
    • "Alive", p. 51
  • Life is not hurrying
    on to a receding future, nor hankering after
    an imagined past. It is the turning
    aside like Moses to the miracle
    of the lit bush, to a brightness
    that seemed as transitory as your youth
    once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
    • "The Bright Field", p. 60

Frequencies (1978)

It was not
I who lived, but life rather
that lived me.
  • Sometimes a strange light
    shines, purer than the moon,
    casting no shadow, that is
    the halo upon the bones
    of the pioneers who died for truth.
    • Groping", p. 12
  • There was a larger pattern
    we worked at: they on a big
    loom, I with a small needle.
    • "In Context", p.13
  • A power guided my hand. If an invisible company
    waited to see what I would do,
    I in my own way asked for
    direction, so we should journey together
    a little nearer the accomplishment
    of the design.
    • "In Context"
  • It was not
    I who lived, but life rather
    that lived me.
    • "In Context"
  • Is there a place
    here for the spirit? Is there time
    on this brief platform for anything
    other than mind's failure to explain itself?
    • "Balance", p. 49

Between Here and Now (1981)

Art is recuperation
from time.
Ah, what balance is needed at
the edges of such an abyss.
  • Art is recuperation
    from time. I lie back
    convalescing upon the prospect
    of a harvest already at hand.
    • "Pissaro: Kitchen Garden, Trees in Bloom", p. 41
  • In the silence
    that is his chosen medium
    of communication and telling
    others about it
    in words. Is there no way
    not to be the sport
    of reason?
    • "The New Mariner", p. 99
  • I had looked forward
    to old age as a time
    of quietness, a time to draw
    my horizons about me,
    to watch memories ripening
    in the sunlight of a walled garden.
    But there is the void
    over my head and the distance
    within that the tireless signals
    come from. And astronaut
    on impossible journeys
    to the far side of the self
    I return with messages
    I cannot decipher.
    • "The New Mariner", p. 99
  • Ah, what balance is needed at
    the edges of such an abyss.

    I am left alone on the surface
    of a turning planet. What

    to do but, like Michelangelo’s
    Adam, put my hand
    out into unknown space,
    hoping for the reciprocating touch?

    • "Threshold", p. 110

Later Poems (1983)

What was the shell doing,
on the shore? An ear endlessly
drinking?
  • somewhere within sight
    of the tree of poetry
    that is eternity wearing
    the green leaves of time.
    • "Prayer" in Later Poems (1983)
  • What was the shell doing,
    on the shore? An ear endlessly
    drinking?
    What? Sound? Silence?
    Which came first?
    Listen.
    • "Questions"

No Truce with the Furies (1995)

All art is anonymous.
  • I turn now
    not to the Bible
    but to Wallace Stevens
    • "Homage to Wallace Stevens"
  • Blessings, Stevens;
    I stand with my back to grammar
    At an altar you never aspired
    to, celebrating the sacrament
    of the imagination whose high-priest
    notwithstanding you are.
    • "Homage to Wallace Stevens"
  • All art is anonymous.
    • "Anybody's Alphabet"

Quotes about Thomas

In Christian terms, Thomas is not a poet of the transfiguration, of the resurrection, of human holiness ... He is a poet of the cross, the unanswered prayer, the bleak trek through darkness. ~ A.E. Dyson
  • His example reduces most modern verse to footling whimsy.
    • Kingsley Amis, in 1956, as quoted in A Guide to Twentieth Century Literature in English (1983)
  • Thomas is not a Wordsworthian poet, and his “nature” is not Wordsworth’s; it is history, rather than divinity, which he responds to most, in the bleak beauty of Wales. In Christian terms, Thomas is not a poet of the transfiguration, of the resurrection, of human holiness ... He is a poet of the cross, the unanswered prayer, the bleak trek through darkness.
    • A.E. Dyson, in Yeats, Eliot, and R.S. Thomas : Riding the Echo (1981), p. 296
  • Thomas has been famously plain-spoken — within the prevailing unclearess. Every poem represents an act of will with which he tries to beat a path, to habituate the microbe, to define its Christian antecedents. It is a painstaking effort: he must find a language that is exact, spare, solid, disciplined yet resonant.
  • In nature, it is divinity, rather than history, which Thomas responds to most. ... Thomas finds the God of nature elusive, but when He reveals Himself, he does so through the natural world. God’s reflection, His shadow, and His echo exist in the Welsh hills. His influence there is both a presence and an absence (and, at times, an absence that is like a presence).
    • Daniel Westover, in "A God of Grass and Pen : R.S. Thomas and the Romantic Imagination" in North American Journal of Welsh Studies, Vol. 3, 2 (Summer 2003)
  • Thomas continues to believe that somewhere beyond God’s metaphoric manifestations, somewhere beyond the questions and sufferings, there is an actual God — inexplicably, even intentionally absent — but real, and one day He may permanently end "the long drought of the mind."
    • Daniel Westover, in "A God of Grass and Pen : R.S. Thomas and the Romantic Imagination" in North American Journal of Welsh Studies, Vol. 3, 2 (Summer 2003)

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