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The Ancients of the World

R. S. Thomas


The Ancients of the World

R. S. Thomas


Poem introduction

For the poet, apart from the one or two critics that do not talk nonsense when discussing poetry, there are only other poets to learn from. This is sensed I suppose by the people who come to one with their repetitive question "Can you tell me who influenced you?". Agreement on that seems to be more unanimous than on what poetry is or what is poetry. However, since we have no contacts with poets unborn most of us serve our apprenticeship to older and former poets, both imitating them on the way to discovering our own voice and experimenting with their technique. Certainly it was so with me. After the usual juvenilia when I began to write more seriously, as I like to think, I was much attracted by assonance and dissonance - the kind of feeling for vowels which one gets in "then nightly sings the stirring owl" or in Yeats's "the horns sweet note and the tooth of the hound". An early poem written under this influence and which also reflects my interest in Welsh mythology was this one called 'The Ancients of the World':

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