And in honour of Valentine's Day
, here's a poem by late, great Welsh poet R.S.Thomas
(1913-2000). He was, in my opinion, one of the finest poets writing in English
in the 20th century
(ironic, of course, for such a champion of the Welsh language
). R.S. was a parish priest and he wrote fierce poetry on the search for God, on nature (especially Welsh landscape), and on Welsh nationhood.
The poem is in memory of his wife. They shared a marriage lasting over fifty years.
She left me. What voice
colder than the wind
out of the grave said:
'It is over'? Impalpable,
invisible, she comes
to me still, as she would
do, and I at my reading.
There is a tremor
of light, as of a bird crossing
the sun's path, and I look
up in recognition
of a presence in absence.
Not a word, not a sound,
as she goes her way,
but a scent lingering
which is that of time immolating
itself in love's fire
From his 1995 collection 'No Truce with the Furies'.
There are obvious parallels with what could be called Thomas' great theme - the absent or withdrawn God - for this too was a presence felt in absence for Thomas. Just as R S knows that his wife is there although she is 'invisible' and 'impalpable' so too his fierce questioning was but one part of his life as an ordained minister of God.
The University of Wales at Bangor now has a centre dedicated to the study of R.S.. Their website can be found at: