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 pushed
On to the stage with a few others,
So near that I could see the toil
Of his face muscles, a pulse like a moth
Fluttering 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 applauded
This player who so beautifully suffered
For each of us upon his instrument.
So it must have been on Calvary
In 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 interrupt
Because it was himself that he played
And closer than all of them the God listened.