June 26, 2007

R.S. Thomas, untitled poems from The Echoes Return Slow

I have no name:

time's changeling.

Put your hand

in my side and disbelieve


in my godhead.

Her face rises

over me and sets;

I am shone on


through tears. Charity

spares what should be

lopped off, before

it is too late.

(p. 3)


Entered for life, failing

to qualify; understudied

for his persona, became identical

with his twin. Confronted

as the other, knew credit

was his for the triumph

of an imposture. Slipped easily

into the role for which

his double was cast, bowing

as low as he to appropriate

the applause. When volunteers

were called for to play

death's part, stood modestly

in the wings, preferring rather

to be prompter than prompted.

(p. 21).


And this one says to me:

               You are an occasion

merely; an event synchronous

with other events,

                        not caused by them.

I switch my attention.

There are voices supperannuating

              the Bible. I must learn,

they say, to believe in a presence

             without existence.

                                   Is it

the Orient infiltrating

             our science, or science bringing

a myth up to date?

                         In a dissolving

             world what certainties

for the self, whose identity

              is its performance?

                            You have no address,

says life, and your destination

is where you began.

                          But love answers it

in its turn: I am old now and have died

many times, but my rebirth is surer

                than the truth embalming itself

in the second law of your Thermo-Dynamics.

(p 33).

Thomas, R.S. The Echoes Return Slow. London: Macmillan, 1988.

- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Jane Holland

    I love RS Thomas, he’s so calming. Reading his best poems is like meditating; you can feel your brainwaves slowing down and shifting onto a different frequency.

    Congratulations on the new book, by the way. I saw it in the Bloodaxe Autumn catalogue, just arrived. The Secret … an alluring title, do let me know when the launch is or any other readings you’ll be doing that I could get to.

    And hey, some key members of the Poem Forum jumped ship yesterday to my own forum, Poets On Fire, due to massive problems logging into the Poem forum. If you, or David Morley, or anyone at Warwick want to register at Poets on Fire and discuss contemporary poetry there, you’d all be very welcome.

    Come and have a look at what we’re doing there, anyway. Here’s the address: http://z11.invisionfree.com/Poets_On_Fire/index.php?

    Hope to hear some of those new poems soon!

    Jane x

    26 Jun 2007, 13:47

  2. Hi Jane, glad you like R.S. Thomas. The Echoes Return Slow is good, but I am not so keen on the Welsh bashing poems. Thanks for the congratulations and for telling me about your poetry forum. It looks really good. I will pass on the word to anyone else I know too. x Zoe

    26 Jun 2007, 15:48

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