I don't know much about RS Thomas, except that he was a Welsh poet and priest with a reputation for loneliness. A streak of love lightens his otherwise bleak and unyielding lyrics, and though in a line of descent from other poet-priests, there's much in his verse to distinguish him from the tradition of Hopkins and Herbert. He's grim almost to the point of misanthropy, and sacramental without being particularly joyous. There's beauty, though, and thought, and, in Herbert's phrase, something understood. He was born in 1913, and died on September 25, 2000. I like the conceit of this poem better than its execution, but it's still a fine poem to remember him by. It's called “The Musician.”
A memory of Kreisler once:At some recital in this same city,The seats all taken, I found myself pushedOn to the stage with a few others,So near that I could see the toilOf his face muscles, a pulse like a mothFluttering under the fine skin,And the indelible veins of his smooth brow.I could see, too, the twitching of the fingers,Caught temporarily in art's neurosis,As we sat there or warmly applaudedThis player who so beautifully sufferedFor each of us upon his instrument.So it must have been on CalvaryIn the fiercer light of the thorns' halo:The men standing by and that one figure,The hands bleeding, the mind bruised but calm,Making such music as lives still.And no one daring to interruptBecause it was himself that he playedAnd closer than all of them the God listened.