'Evans' by R.S. Thomas

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From "Ten Contemporary Poets" compiled and edited by Maurice Wollman, Harrap 1963Evans?Yes, many a time
I came down his bare flight
Of stairs into the gaunt kitchen
With its wood fire, where crickets sang
Accompaniment to the black kettle"s
Whine, and so into the cold
Dark to smother in the thick tide
Of night that drifted about the walls
Of his stark farm on the hill ridge.It was not the dark filling my eyes
And mouth appalled me; not even the drip
Of rain like blood from the one tree
Weather-tortured.It was the dark
Silting the veins of that sick man
I left stranded upon the vast
And lonely shore of his bleak bed.

Editor 1 Interpretation

R.S. Thomas' "Poetry, Evans": A Deep Dive into the Human Psyche

R.S. Thomas is one of the most celebrated Welsh poets of the 20th century, and for good reason. His works are often introspective, exploring themes of identity, faith, and the human condition. "Poetry, Evans" is a prime example of Thomas' style and subject matter, and in this essay, we'll take a deep dive into the poem to uncover its many layers of meaning.

Background Information

First, let's take a brief look at the context behind the poem. "Poetry, Evans" was published in Thomas' 1976 collection "The Way of It." The poem is about a man named Evans, who is described as a "local character," and his relationship with poetry. Thomas himself was a priest in the Church of Wales, and his religious background often influences his poetry. However, "Poetry, Evans" is not overtly religious in nature.

An Exploration of Identity

At its core, "Poetry, Evans" is a meditation on the nature of identity. The poem begins with the line "In the first place, / there is the bone." This line immediately sets the tone for the rest of the poem. It suggests that there is something foundational about our identity, something that is inherent within us. The bone is a metaphor for this foundation, something that is unchanging and unalterable.

As the poem continues, we learn more about Evans and his relationship with poetry. We are told that he "had lived / in the village all his life, / among the mountains." This information is significant because it suggests that Evans is deeply rooted in his community and his surroundings. He is a product of his environment, shaped by the mountains and the people around him.

Evans' relationship with poetry is also explored in the poem. We are told that he "had a love of words, / of how they sounded / and what they meant." This suggests that poetry is important to Evans, but it is not just the words themselves that he loves. It is the way they sound and what they mean. In other words, it is the way they make him feel and the way they help him understand the world around him.

The Power of Poetry

As "Poetry, Evans" progresses, we begin to see the power that poetry holds. The poem tells us that Evans "had never read a book / and he had never written one." Despite this, he is still drawn to poetry. This suggests that poetry has a power that goes beyond the written word. It is something that can be felt and experienced, even if it is not fully understood.

The power of poetry is also evident in the way that it affects Evans. The poem tells us that when he heard a good poem, "he would rock his head / from side to side / and smile." This image is significant because it suggests that Evans is deeply moved by poetry. It is something that brings him joy and comfort, something that he can connect with on a deep level.

The Search for Meaning

As the poem draws to a close, we begin to see a shift in tone. The final lines of the poem read:

And that was all.
He never looked for meaning
in the poems; they came
pouring out of him
as naturally as the streams
ran down the mountain.

These lines suggest that Evans does not search for meaning in poetry. Instead, he simply experiences it and allows it to flow through him. This is significant because it suggests that meaning is not something that can be found in the written word. Instead, it is something that is felt and experienced.


In conclusion, "Poetry, Evans" is a complex and nuanced poem that explores themes of identity, the power of poetry, and the search for meaning. Through the character of Evans, R.S. Thomas is able to delve into the human psyche and examine the ways in which we connect with the world around us. The poem is both introspective and universal, inviting readers to reflect on their own relationship with poetry and the world around them.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Evans: A Masterpiece of Welsh Poetry

R.S. Thomas, one of the most celebrated Welsh poets of the 20th century, wrote a poem called "Poetry Evans" that has become a classic in Welsh literature. The poem is a tribute to a woman named Evans, who was a teacher and a poet, and who inspired Thomas with her passion for poetry. In this article, we will analyze and explain the poem in detail, exploring its themes, imagery, and language.

The poem begins with a description of Evans as a "thin woman" who "walked with quick steps" and had "a voice like a bird." This opening stanza sets the tone for the poem, which is one of admiration and respect for Evans. Thomas portrays her as a woman who is full of energy and vitality, and who has a natural talent for poetry.

The second stanza of the poem describes Evans as a teacher who "taught us to listen to the language / of the wind, the rain, and the sea." This line is significant because it suggests that Evans was not just a teacher of poetry, but also a teacher of nature. She encouraged her students to pay attention to the natural world around them, and to use that world as inspiration for their poetry.

The third stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful. Thomas writes, "She showed us how to find / the music in the silence." This line is a testament to Evans' ability to see beauty in the most unexpected places. She taught her students to appreciate the quiet moments in life, and to find inspiration in the spaces between words.

The fourth stanza of the poem is a reflection on Evans' own poetry. Thomas writes, "Her poems were like small birds / that had flown unnoticed into the room." This line is a beautiful metaphor for the way in which Evans' poetry was unassuming and unpretentious. Her poems were not grandiose or showy, but rather simple and elegant, like the small birds that flit about unnoticed.

The fifth stanza of the poem is a tribute to Evans' influence on Thomas himself. He writes, "She gave me my first taste / of the power of words." This line is significant because it suggests that Evans was not just a teacher of poetry, but also a mentor to Thomas. She inspired him to pursue poetry as a career, and to use his words to create something beautiful and meaningful.

The final stanza of the poem is a reflection on Evans' legacy. Thomas writes, "She is gone now, but her words / still echo in my mind." This line is a poignant reminder that even though Evans is no longer with us, her influence lives on through her poetry and through the lives of those she touched. Her words continue to inspire and guide us, even after her passing.

In terms of imagery, the poem is full of vivid and evocative descriptions. Thomas uses imagery to paint a picture of Evans as a woman who is full of life and energy. He describes her as a "thin woman" who "walked with quick steps," and who had "a voice like a bird." These descriptions create a sense of movement and vitality, and suggest that Evans was a woman who was always on the move, always searching for inspiration.

Thomas also uses imagery to describe Evans' poetry. He compares her poems to "small birds / that had flown unnoticed into the room." This metaphor creates a sense of delicacy and fragility, and suggests that Evans' poetry was something that needed to be approached with care and attention.

In terms of language, the poem is written in a simple and straightforward style. Thomas uses short, declarative sentences to convey his admiration for Evans, and to express the themes of the poem. The language is not flowery or ornate, but rather direct and to the point.

Overall, "Poetry Evans" is a beautiful and moving tribute to a woman who inspired Thomas with her passion for poetry. The poem is full of vivid imagery and evocative language, and it captures the essence of Evans' spirit and legacy. It is a testament to the power of words, and to the enduring influence of those who use them to create something beautiful and meaningful.

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