The Fair

By R. S. Thomas 1913–2000
The idiot goes round and around
With his brother in a bumping car
At the fair. The famous idiot
Smile hangs over the car’s edge,
Illuminating nothing. This is mankind
Being taken for a ride by a rich
Relation. The responses are fixed:
Bump, smile; bump, smile. And the current

Is generated by the smooth flow
Of the shillings. This is an orchestra
Of steel with the constant percussion
Of laughter. But where he should be laughing
Too, his features are split open, and look!
Out of the cracks come warm, human tears.

R. S. Thomas, “The Fair” from The Poems of R. S. Thomas. Copyright © by Kunjana Thomas 2001.  Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.

Source: The Poems of R. S. Thomas (1985)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet R. S. Thomas 1913–2000

POET’S REGION Wales

Subjects Relationships, Social Commentaries

 R. S. Thomas

Biography

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 . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION Wales

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.