Book marks RS Thomas’ 100th birthday
A SUBSTANTIAL number of poems by a leading Welsh poet published in newspapers, magazines and journals, as well as in private or limited editions are to be published today in a new collection.
Uncollected Poems brings together for the first time a selection of poems by Ronald Stuart Thomas (known as RS Thomas) who was born on March 29 100 years ago.
The book’s publication is one of a number of events being staged across Wales and beyond to mark the centenary of his birth.
Thomas, who served much of his life as a Church in Wales minister in Aberdaron and rural Montgomeryshire, was well-known for his views on Christianity and what he saw as the Anglicisation of his country.
But above all, he was regarded as one of the most commanding literary figures of his generation.
Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales, said this week she was still inspired by Thomas’s work.
Prof Wynn Thomas of Swansea University, who knew the poet for the last 10 years of his life, said he has been stereotyped as an “ogre of Wales” because of his fierce nationalism.
Thomas, who died in 2000, once defended the Meibion Glyndwr arson campaign against English-owned second homes.
Prof Thomas said: “He is a major poet of engagement with Wales and the whole issue of cultural threat, which is a worldwide phenomenon.
“The whole of the last 30 years of his life was largely given over to his profound brooding over a sense of the lack of any evidence of the God, in whom he so preciously believed, in the affairs of humans and their world.”
Thomas is said by others who knew him as “a mass of contradictions” – a fiercely proud Welshman ready to defend the arson campaign while also playing the role of an English gent.
Among other contradictions was Thomas’ decision to send son Gwydion to an English public school.
Speaking in 2006 Gwydion told how his father never encouraged him to learn Welsh language.
“I think he thought I should have the best education and opportunities but that did not include anything in Wales,” he said.
Gwydion, who told how his father would “drone on” to ridiculous lengths during sermons on the evils of household appliances, added: “All of his life he tried to find out who he was. He played many parts but he never really found the right one.”
Among other celebratory events running until the end of March 2014 is a lecture by Professor Thomas at Bangor University on the poet’s relationship with the church.
The lecture, on April 11, is followed by the opening of an exhibition of materials from the RS Thomas Centre’s archive
Up to date information on celebratory events can be found at rsthomas2013.org