R.S Thomas The Village- Themes and ideas • Thomas is telling this small, dilapidated village to stay as a relic of times past; a touchstone from which to measure the state of commercialism perhaps • Classic story of the abandonment of village life for the city • Village is being swallowed up by the rural – opposite to Larkin • Highlights the unrelenting force of nature • Plato’s cave: reference suggests that though the general eye sees the dilapidated village (shadows on the wall) only the poet/’enlightened ones’ are able to see the reality of generations surviving in this village in this barren landscape The Village- AO2 • Language is sparse and barren – common in Thomas’ poetry as it reflects the barrenness of the Welsh landscape • Commas slow the pace in final stanza, emphasising the philosophical tone • Only 8 lines used to describe village; emphasising the scarcity of the village and the landscape surrounding it • ‘One tavern, one shop’ highlights difference between rural village and bustling plenty of city/urban • Caesura emphasises ideas: ‘hot sun/Is history’ places stress on the idea of history, enforcing the ideas of time passing and how the village is locked in the past The village- AO4 • Thomas was wary of English ‘invading’ Wales • Deep dislike for ‘anglicisation’ of Wales – was a fierce advocate for Welsh nationalism • Unhappy with industrialisation of Wales; "the assault of contemporary lifestyles on the beauty and peace of the natural world”. • Lived very simple life: refused modern home comforts (Thomas rejected a vacuum cleaner because it was too noisy) The village- Pastoral elements • Nostalgia: ‘last outpost of time past’ • Dominance of rural over civilisation ‘long erosion of the green tide’ • Purity of the rural: the barrenness of the village is reminiscent of the Earth before human development Welsh Landscape- Themes and ideas • Wales is becoming modernised, however Thomas believes that those who live in Wales should remember where they came from and how their ancestors fought for Wales. • The ‘noisy tractor’ in line 7 reflects the predominantly rural economy of Wales and the ‘hum of the machine’ reflects Thomas’ beliefs that the modernisation of Wales is distracting people from remembering the heritage and ancestors they came from. • The language of the past is still around, however who speaks it? Thomas against Anglo-American domination. ‘There is the language for instance, the soft consonants Strange to the ear’ reflects how even in Wales the Welsh language is odd, Thomas himself didn’t even start learning to speak Welsh until he was 30- too late he said to white any of his poetry in Welsh • For the narrator the traditional Wales is key ‘There is no present in Wales, And no future; there is only the past’ Welsh Landscape- AO2 • • • • • The title places the poem firmly in its genre of the pastoral, imagery of lush rolling hills is expected by the reader. This however is contrasted with violent images from the star- ‘spilled blood’, ‘dyeing the immaculate rivers’. The use of the word dyeing is of significance, if you speak the poetry aloud it sounds the same as ‘dying’, once again adding to the semantic field of violence. It could also be interpreted as the pollution irreversible pollution of Englishmen that has been left behind in Wales, after the battles to fight for its independence. The poem is written in one continuous stanza of 29 lines of irregular length. The metre of the poem relies on the rhythmic qualities of the language used, the phrasing of this language and the variation of the sentences. The poem could be seen as anti-pastoral in terms of genre, opposed to pastoral. In this poem the country side is not seen as a retreat where people can frolic in nature, but as a decaying and corrupt tourist site, where people have sold their souls to false, commercial ideology. ‘the spilled blood’-onomatopoeia emphasises the fullness of life that was spilled onto the landscape to try and defend Wales- emphasises that people should have a think about their ancestors Lines 16-19 give a more sinister tone; the owl could be a symbol of death, wisdom and is sometimes associated with the moon, the controller of the tides. The ‘thick ambush of shadows’ recalls the conflict and battle once more as well as reflections of the past ‘hushed at the fields’ corners’ give an eerie feel, and show how the shadows of the past are overwhelming the narrator Welsh Landscape- AO3 • The image of a nation clinging to the fancied glories of the past and refusing to integrate and improve their gene pool ‘impotent people, Sick with inbreeding’ • Living in the past and only focusing on ancestors is preventing the modern day to move on ‘you cannot live in the present/ at least not in Wales’ implies a nation that is always looking backwards • Shadows of the past overwhelm the present Welsh Landscape- AO4 • Thomas was noted for his nationalism, spirituality and deep dislike of the anglicisation of Wales • He became a fierce advocate of Welsh nationalism, however he never supported Plaid Cymru because he believed that they did not go far enough in their opposition in England • Hatred of gadgets, he would often preach against washing machines and fridges as diverting people’s attention from more important things. Invasion on the farm- AO2 • Form: • Title, followed up by short abrupt introduction in first line, makes the reader seem like the invader, provoking the reaction from Prytherch • Structure: • Use of caesura in most lines creates a halting pace, perhaps giving the meaning of hesitation, confusion or bewilderment. • No rhyme scheme, but a use of assonance with the words ‘don’t’, ‘know’, ‘flow’, ‘alone’, ‘exposed’, ‘own’, ‘moment’, ‘blowing’, ‘open’ creates continued sound. • Ends quite abruptly, completes the jarring and awkward feel of the poem, perhaps intended to communicate the discomfort of the narrative persona. • Language: • Continued water/river metaphor, “Thoughts flow” “fish in their quick stream” “Paddled in the bright grass” • “Warm as a sack” could imply poverty yet comfort Invasion on the farm- AO3 • Pastoral/traditional life damaged by tourists from cities and towns, Prytherch representing a simple farmer • Inevitability of the takeover of urban life and modernisation “The patched gate/You left open will never be shut again.” Invasion on the farm-AO4 • ‘Iago Prytherch’ a recurring character in Thomas’ poetry. Stereotype of the English-speaking Welsh hillside farmer representing traditional Welsh pastoral life • R S Thomas resented modernisation and often preached about the evils of technology. Also against tourism and supported the fire-bombing of English-owned holiday cottages in rural Wales. Very patriotic and supported Welsh independence.