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This article is taken from PN Review 251, Volume 46 Number 3, January - February 2020.

Two unpublished notebooks by R.S. Thomas
Light ‘thick as honey among the grasses’
M. Wynn Thomas
A few years back I wrote as follows: ‘There are deaths that have affected the very weather of the Welsh mind, and for two days after R.S. Thomas’s passing in September, 2000, the country was swept by storms. What mattered to many, towards the end of his long life, was that he was still there, magnificently cussed, wilfully bloody-minded, incorrigibly anachronistic. In a world glib with yes-men his was a voice ever ready to say No! in thunder.’

His death burdened me with a heavy responsibility, as he had appointed me literary executor of his unpublished estate. In that capacity I first acted as custodian of such of his manuscripts as remained and then, in accordance with his express wishes, selected a handful of previously unpublished poems for publication. The resultant volume, Residues, appeared in 2002, after which Thomas’s papers were transferred by me to his family, who sold them to the R. S. Thomas Research Centre at Bangor University. As for me, I turned to interpreting his poetry in the volume R. S. Thomas: Serial Obsessive, published to mark the hundredth anniversary of his birth. In due course, Professor Tony Brown and Professor Jason Walford Davies, the joint Directors of the R. S. Thomas Centre, brought out with Bloodaxe a collection of several new painting poems under the title Too Brave to Dream. But many other fine poems still remain unpublished.

I had supposed my duties concluded with the placement in safe keeping of what appeared to be all of Thomas’s unpublished materials. However, ...


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