The Other is a poem inscribed on a slab of Snowdonia slate in the seaside village of Aberdaron (Wales) where the poet served as priest.
When I visited Aberdaron many years ago I bought a picture postcard of the poem.
I subsequently lost, or more correctly thought I'd lost the card, the card which I had trimmed so that I could carry it about with me in my wallet. But just now, sorting out my books, I've found it. It was inside Heinrich Heine's Eine Auslese, a book which had disappeared long ago behind a pile of old papers that I'm now going to throw out. The Other is as a matter of interest one of the few poems I've memorised. I'd like to share it.
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.
On the other side of the trimmed postcard there are some scribbled words from another R S Thomas' poem. These made a strong impression on me some time ago:
prayers like gravel flung at the sky's window ... I would have refrained long since but that peering once through my locked fingers I thought that I detected the movement of a curtain