Archive for The Other

R.S. Thomas, a Short Biography

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , on April 25, 2011 by telescoper

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 …