Monday, 25 February 2008

Poetry in public places - Aberdaron, North Wales

In this occasional series Poet-in-Residence looks at poetry to be found on various stones and monuments in public locations around the world. Today, P-i-R travels from Singapore (search sidebar) to Wales and the tiny village of Aberdaron at the end of the Lleyn Peninsula where the priestly poet R S Thomas was for a time God's local incumbent. Aberdaron was in fact his last official posting. He retired to live in the grounds of a large house not far away - today a National Trust property. There's a famous photograph of Thomas staring, almost glaring, out of the window - looking rather like a wild goat.
On a piece of Snowdonia slate in the seashore churchyard at Aberdaron can be found an R S Thomas' sonnet. It comes from the 1988 publication 'The Echoes Return Slow'. In 'Echoes' each poem is preceeded by a piece of text. The text is the thought that gives way to the poem.

Minerva's bird, Athene noctua; too small for wisom, yet unlike its tawnier cousin active by day, too, its cat's eyes bitterer than the gorse petals. But at night it was lyrical, its double note sounded under the stars in counterpoint to the fall of the waves.

There are nights that are so still
that I can hear the small owl calling
far off, and a fox barking
miles away. It is then that I lie
in the lean hours awake, listening
to the swell born somewhere in the Atlantic
rising and falling, rising and falling
wave on wave on the long shore
by the village, that is without light
and companionless. And the thought comes
of 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.


  1. His poems are so fascinating and readable. His insight is something else. I can sometimes spend hours with his poems, whole evenings.
    I somehow always end up going back to the same few favourite poets - and RST is definitely one of them.

  2. Nice poem. It show the deep passion for nature the poet has. Peace

  3. Well observed t p, - the beloved welsh landscape!
    I often turn to RST with my 'hiraeth' (a longing for home).


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.