R.S. Thomas Writes About the People and Landscape of the Welsh ‘Hill Country’. by Referring Closely to at Least Two of His Poems, Show How He Makes the Welsh Countryside and Its Inhabitants Vivid to the Reader.

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Ronald Stuart Thomas, born in Cardiff, on the 29th of March 1913-2000, He was a well known poet and a clergyman for the Church of England. Thomas’s ministry took him to a number rural parishes in north Wales, the bleak beauty of the landscape and the hard lives of the peasant farmers became the main themes of his poems. By analysing these aspects of Thomas’s poetry this essay will examine how he makes the Welsh countryside and its inhabitants vivid to the reader. Thomas's poem “The Hill Farmer Speaks” demonstrates inextricable link between the Welsh hill farmer, nature, his land and his animals. The hill farmer holds a special bond with his animals for which he cares 'year after year'. The hill farmer is used by Thomas as a representation of the hill farming community; he hides himself from the curious gaze of those onlookers who don’t understand his way of life; he appeals to the reader not to be treated differently from anyone else and in a refrain he emphasises this by stating, 'I am a man like you.' Thomas represents this in a rhyming couplet to give more power to his message and also for this man to be understood. He is 'stripped of love'. Thomas employs these harsh words and phrases to emphasise the bleak landscape and the farmer’s manual efforts in 'desolate acres' and 'land’s hardness'. Thomas also uses oxymoron when he describes the landscape as 'rough with dew' also to reinforce the farmer’s toil. The second stanza is presented to convey how this lifestyle is a tradition that goes ‘year after year,’ This stanza demonstrates the farming life is the very blood of the people and is a tradition Thomas so desperately wants to save through poetry. He draws the reader’s attention to the hardships the farmers now face. The strongest message is that the farmer and the animals are one. The farmer states 'the pig is a friend ' and 'the cattle's breath mingles with mine’. He is `content with his life as he tells how he ‘wears it willingly like a cloak’. However there is a sinister tone when he presents the image of the starving livestock, 'and the ewes starve milk less and I starve too’. Thomas implies the farmer is uncomfortable with the ‘curious gaze’ of onlookers and he seems to fear that the traditional methods of the Welsh farming community are in danger of disappearing. Even though the images are dark and bleak the farmer is comfortable with his animals and his lifestyle. He loves the Welsh hill country as does as does the subject in another poem, “Farm Child”. The poem “Farm Child” is a straight forward poem with a simple message and it is well known for direct beauty of its poetry. The images presented connect this boy with his natural surroundings, the farm child is at one with nature as Thomas writes, ‘pockets stuffed with flowers’ and ‘the sun freckled his smooth face’. This poem contrasts the “Hill Farmer Speaks” as the boy has fallen in love with the Welsh hill country environment but the farmer has been ‘stripped of love’ Thomas presents a third person narrative to encourage the reader to observe this boy closely, Thomas uses the word ‘look’ twice, then followed by the word ‘mark’, then ‘notice’ to emphasise his desire for the reader to highlight the boy in his natural Welsh environment. Thomas employs sibilance to bring a musical feel to the poem and a lovely image of the boy collecting ‘snail shells and bits of glass’. Thomas also employs alliteration to emphasise the unity between the boy and his surroundings: ‘thorn and thistle tuft’. Thomas presents how the boy’s physical features seem to blend with the landscape, ‘harebell hiding in his eyes’. Thomas suggests in this poem that childhood in the Welsh hill country is a short period of innocence and freedom but the last line of the poem suggests a tougher life ahead when the hill farmer will be called to the ‘stubborn plough’. Another of Thomas’s poems is “soil”. Like the last two poems analysed, Thomas again presents the close...
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