They keep me sober,

The old ladies

Stiff in their beds,

Mostly with pale eyes

Wintering me.

Some are like blonde dolls,

Their joints twisted;

Life in its brief play

Was a bit rough.

Some fumble

With thick tongue for words

And are deaf;

Shouting their faint names

I listen:

They are far off,

The echoes return slow.


But without them,

Without the subdued light

Their smiles kindle,

I would have gone wild,

Drinking earth’s huge draughts

Of joy and woe.





R.S. Thomas 1913-2000

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