The Man Who Went Into The West

24 October 2007

Read Byron Roger’s eye-openning life of the misanthropic Welsh poet, RS Thomas. The Reverend Thomas lived all of his life in Wales, with his wife, who was a talented artist. He wrote some wonderful poems about the Welsh, God and Art, but seems to have been a monumentally selfish man. In particular, the testimony of his son Gwydion is very damning: he packed the poor boy off to English boarding school when he was eight despite the fact that Thomas professed to loathe everything English and his son was very happy mucking around the Welsh fields with all his friends. Gwydion seems to have been scarred for the rest of his life. Thomas’ lack of interest in his wife’s art seems rather selfish too.

I enjoy reading biographies of selfish, second rate poets and artists because it reminds me that I’m not as bad as them. They are a pretty low bench mark by which to measure the success of your own life by, but they are a bench mark nevertheless. With Thomas’ biography, I kept turning the pages, reading about his monumental grumpiness, thinking, ‘I’m never that bad!’

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