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This report is taken from PN Review 245, Volume 45 Number 3, January - February 2019.

R.S. Thomas redivivus David Whiting
‘Watching’ by R.S. Thomas has been hiding in plain sight for over fifty-five years, a poem published only once (to the best of my knowledge), in a long forgotten 1962 anthology. Thomas never chose to collect it, and the poem was overlooked more recently when Tony Brown and Jason Walford Davies edited R.S. Thomas’s ‘Uncollected Poems’ (Bloodaxe) in 2013, bringing together many pieces that had only previously appeared in various periodicals and limited editions. Tony Brown tells me it is the first poem to emerge since their book came out. Here is the text of the poem.

One life was not long enough.
Although the light fused many times
In the course of his stay, the rare bird
Never came, coasting the marsh,
Where the rush burned. He lived knowing
That eyes not his had seen it depart
In a far summer. His thought compelled it
In cold skies, where it hung back
And waited for the snow to deploy
Its white army. There was room on the bog,
Where the man pondered; the still pools’
Cameras were focused, but day after day
They took nothing but the blank sky’s
Incident, or at night the stars,
The spent flakes of remoter storms.

The anthology it appeared in was The Wind and the Rain; An Easter Book for 1962, edited by Neville Braybrooke (1923–2001). Braybrooke was a poet, novelist, editor and biographer. The Wind and the ...


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