Iago Prytherch his name, though, be it allowed,
Just an ordinary man of the bald Welsh hills,
Who pens a few sheep in a gap of cloud.
Docking mangles chipping the green skin
From the yellow bones with a half-witted grin
Of satisfaction, or churning the crude earth
To a stiff sea of clouds that glint in the wind --
So are his days spent, his spittled mirth
Rarer than the sun that cracks the cheeks
Of the gaunt sky perhaps once in a week.
And then at night see him fixed in his chair
Motionless,except when he leans to gob in the fire.
There is something frightening in the vacancy of his mind.
His clothes, sour with years of sweat
And animal contact, shock the refined,
But affected, sense with their stark naturalness,
Yet this is your prototype, who, season by season
Against seige of rain and the wind's attrition,
Preserves his stock, an impregneble fortress
Not to be stormed even in death's confusion.
Remember him, then, for he, too, is a winner of wars,
Enduring like a tree under the curious stars.

In 1942 ... One gray autumn afternoon,
coming away from a hilltop farm
I had been visiting, I saw the farmer's
brother in the fields, docking swedes.
I came back home and wrote "A Peasant,"
the first of my poems about
Iago Prytherch, my symbol of the hill farmer.
(R.S.Thomas, "Autobiographical Essay",
Miraculous Simplicity, p.9-10)

"A Peasant,"
from Song at the Year's Turning
You can also find this in
COLLECTED POEMS 1945-1990(J.M.Dent, 1993).

Background image: Mid Welsh hills
This photo was taken in August 2003 by Yoshifum! Nagata