By R. S. Thomas 1913–2000
All my life
I was face to face
with her, at meal-times,
by the fire, even
in the ultimate intimacies
of the bed. You could have asked,
then, for information
about her? There was a room
apart she kept herself in,
teasing me by leading me
to its glass door, only
to confront me with
my reflection. I learned from her
even so. Walking her shore
I found things cast up
from her depths that spoke
to me of another order,
worshipper as I was
of untamed nature. She fetched
her treasures from art’s
storehouse: pieces of old
lace, delicate as frost;
china from a forgotten
period; a purse more valuable
than anything it could contain.
Coming in from the fields
with my offering of flowers
I found her garden
had forestalled me in providing
civilities for my desk.
‘Tell me about life,’
I would say, ‘you who were
its messenger in the delivery
of our child.’ Her eyes had a
fine shame, remembering her privacy
being invaded from further off than
she expected. ‘Do you think
death is the end?’ frivolously
I would ask her. I recall
now the swiftness of its arrival
wrenching her lip down, and how
the upper remained firm,
reticent as the bud that is
the precursor of the flower.

R.S. Thomas, “Together” from Collected Later Poems: 1988-2000. Reprinted with the permission of Bloodaxe Books Ltd.,

Source: Residues (Bloodaxe Books, 2002)

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Poet R. S. Thomas 1913–2000


Subjects Marriage & Companionship, Living, Death

 R. S. Thomas


Recognized as one of the leading poets of modern Wales, R. S. Thomas writes about the people of his country in a style that some critics have compared to that nation's harsh and rugged terrain. Using few of the common poetic devices, Thomas's work exhibits what Alan Brownjohn of the New Statesman calls a "cold, telling purity of language." James F. Knapp of Twentieth Century Literature explains that "the poetic world which . . .

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SUBJECT Marriage & Companionship, Living, Death


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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