I've already featured Dylan Thomas and Edward Thomas in this sequence, so I thought I'd now include a poem by RS Thomas. A trio of Thomases! RS is a very fine poet, I believe. His poems can be stark and brooding, and harsh as a Welsh mountain landscape, but they can also be shafted with light (I urge you to listen to Thomas himself reading The Bright Field). He's honest (at times uncomfortably so) about human nature, and about his religious doubts (despite being an Anglican priest). His god is a god who is always just out of reach, forever exiting when Thomas enters. All that remains are obscure signs and traces, never the actual presence. His earlier poems about Welsh farmers and Welsh farming life display a bleak realism and melancholy, yet containing flashes of redemption; his later poems are more metaphysical, alternating between an anguished and a resigned spirituality. The following poem fits in well with the birdsong theme developed in this series.
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.
You have heard it often, alone at your desk
In a green April, your mind drawn
Away from its work by sweet disturbance
Of the mild evening outside your room.
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.