R.S. Thomas, a Short Biography

I came across this short documentary about the poet R.S. Thomas on Youtube and thought I’d share it.

The documentary was made in anticipation of Thomas winning the 1996 Nobel Prize for Literature, for which he had been nominated. Sadly he didn’t win it, and the honour went to Seamus Heaney.

The film is only a few minutes long, but it says a lot about the man and his life as well as featuring two of his greatest poems. One, Children’s Song, I’ve posted before; the other is The Other, which is reproduced here:

There are nights that are so still
that I can hear the small owl calling
far off and a fox barking
miles away. It is then that I lie
in the lean hours awake listening
to the swell born somewhere in the Atlantic
rising and falling, rising and falling
wave on wave on the long shore
by the village, that is without light
and companionless. And the thought comes
of that other being who is awake, too,
letting our prayers break on him,
not like this for a few hours,
but for days, years, for eternity.

Apparently, at St Hywyn’s Church in Aberdaron, where Thomas was vicar for many years, you can see a large slate with this poem carved upon it; it is shown at the end of the short film. I don’t know why, but I have developed a curious longing to visit that place …


3 Responses to “R.S. Thomas, a Short Biography”

  1. Whoever you are, thank you for this beautiful short film. I post daily poems with commentaries in the month of April only and will be using R.S. Thomas’s ‘The Peasant’ today. I was searching for more background material and happened upon your site. My heart is filled with a peace and quiet joy to find your posting.
    Sending you a deep bow of thanks. Susan

  2. Bryn Jones Says:

    Yes, I visited St. Hywyn’s Church, Aberdaron, a couple of weeks ago, and the slate plaque showing The Other is indeed in the church. The church is a little unusual in that it is double-naved. It stands just above the beach and the graveyard extends up a hill to the edge of the village. There is a small display about R. S. Thomas at the back of the church which displays several poems (on paper on a wall), as well as The Other on the slate plaque.

    It is a deeply moving poem.

  3. Mrs Fiona Marsland Says:

    I am reading Deborah Alun-Jones’s ‘The Wry Romance of the Literary Library’. Chapter 6 on p. 133 is about the poet R. S. Thomas. It is really fascinating and I am enjoying reading the whole book! FM

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