R.S Thomas

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
• 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
• 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
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
• 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