Children’s Song

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.
And though you probe and pry
With analytic eye,
And eavesdrop all our talk
With an amused look,
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.

by R.S. Thomas (1913-2000)


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6 Responses to “Children’s Song”

  1. Bryn Jones Says:

    I find his poetry astonishing. The words are clear, simple, precise and carefully chosen, even if there sometimes remains a little uncertainty about the meaning of the poem.

    R. S. Thomas had a magnificent talent.

  2. telescoper Says:

    I’m not going to argue about that. I only discovered his poetry on moving to Wales. I don’t understand why he isn’t more widely celebrated.

  3. Bryn Jones Says:

    My discovery of the work of R. S. Thomas came in two stages, both at secondary school. I happened to attend the successor comprehensive school to the grammar school that he attended, so we were given examples of his work when I was aged 12 and 13. I appreciated that and enjoyed it.

    Later, my class studied five or six modern English-language poets during my O Level English Literature studies. One was D. J. Enright. R. S. Thomas was another, and the rest I cannot recall. I found much of the poetry uninspiring, some dull. Most made no impression on me.

    But R. S. Thomas blew my mind. It was absolutely astonishing. Incredible.

    There has been one very strong negative result from this. I found the work of R. S. Thomas so powerful, of such high quality, that it blunted my appreciation of other poetry from all ages. Now that is a compliment to Thomas: he ruined my appreciation of poetry.

    • Bryn Jones Says:

      Of course, I have always worried that my love of the work of R. S. Thomas was due to some element of parochialism. It’s interesting that other people with very different backgrounds regard him highly too.

    • telescoper Says:

      I wouldn’t say he’s ruined my appreciation of poetry. I do read quite a lot of poetry and find much to enjoy when doing so. I would say however that in most other poets’ collections I find a few poems very powerful. R.S. Thomas is different. His work is uniformly, consistently and remorselessly excellent. Very few duff poems and a great many brilliant ones, little that is trite and a lot that is profund.

      It’s true that he often deals with specifically Welsh themes, but often – as in the above example – his work is genuinely universal.

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