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R. S. Thomas (Ronald Stuart Thomas) Biography

(1913–2000), (Ronald Stuart Thomas), The Stones of the Field, An Acre of Land, The Minister

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Welsh poet, born in Cardiff; he read Classics at the University College of North Wales, Bangor, and received his theological training at St Michael's College, Llandaff. He ministered in a succession of Welsh parishes from 1937 until his retirement in 1978. His first three volumes of poetry, The Stones of the Field (1946), An Acre of Land (1952), and The Minister (1953), a verse-drama for radio, established the harshly unsentimental concern with remote rural landscapes and their inhabitants that is dominant in his writing until the early 1960s. Song at the Year's Turning (1955), a substantial collection of his work, gained him a considerable reputation as a poet of uncompromisingly original vision. Among his numerous subsequent volumes are Pieta (1966), Frequencies (1978), Experimenting with an Amen (1986), Counterpoint (1990), and Mass for Hard Times (1992), throughout which the theological element discernible in many earlier poems gradually assumes primacy. The intellectual rigour and passionate restraint of Thomas's broodings on the Incarnation, the problems of pain and suffering, and other major religious themes produce verse of great fluency and sureness of tone. Eminent among the proponents of Welsh cultural and linguistic nationalism, his writings in Welsh, which he used only for prose, include Neb, literally ‘no one’, his autobiography of 1976. Selected Poems 1946–1968 (1973), Later Poems: A Selection (1983), and Collected Poems, 1945–1990 (1993) are his major collections.

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