R.S. Thomas’ “Arrival”

I’ve finally come to the place in Collected Poems 1945-1990 where it overlaps the first book of R.S. Thomas I read, Collected Later Poems 1988-2000. So with this poem I’ll end my current discussion of his poetry, though I may very well return to it in the future. I’m still amazed that with all the college poetry classes I’ve had I’ve never read his poetry before, nor is he represented in any of my various collections of poetry, at least as far as I’ve discovered so far.

I’ve been impressed with his poetry, as you can probably tell, and more than a little amazed at that. Hopefully you’ve been impressed enough to also explore his poetry.

I suppose that this poem might even serve to symbolize my reaction to his poetry:


Not conscious
that you have been seeking
you come upon it

the village in the Welsh hills
dust free
with no road out
but the one you came in by.

A bird chimes
from a green tree
the hour that is no hour
you know. The river dawdles
to hold a mirror for you
where you may see yourself
as you are, a traveler
with the moon’s halo
above him, whom has arrived
after long journeying where he
began, catching this
one truth by surprise
that there is everything to look forward to.

I’ll have to admit that I’ve had this exact feeling several times in my life, most recently when I returned to the Puget Sound, at least the parts of it that haven’t become too citified. But there are other more remote areas, high up in the Cascades that have struck me the same way and places at the coast where you can almost feel eternity’s pull on you.

Like Thomas, I’m most apt to find my higher self reflected in nature.

3 thoughts on “R.S. Thomas’ “Arrival””

  1. Impressed enough, so far, to explore your other R.S. Thomas poetry entries and to wonder about “that other being who is awake, too,/
    letting our prayers break on him/
    not like this for a few hours,/
    but for days, years, for eternity./”
    And to wonder whether the stillness of meditation might be less erosive than waves of prayer.

    Not that I have the answer, but I like to wonder.

  2. Chesterton wrote that the whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.

  3. I am delighted that you have discovered the poetry of R. S. Thomas. All of his poetry was written in english but his autobiography was written in welsh. R.S. Thomas, born in Cardiff, was an Anglican Minister in wales learning welsh in adulthood. Rowan Williams the welsh speaking Archbisop of the Anglican Communion is a similar poet to Thomas but perhaps nearer to George Herbert.
    A big thank you for bringing the work of R.S. Thomas to a wider audience.
    Now I have found your site I will return often.

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