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An Old Man

R.S. Thomas

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An Old Man
Added by: AM
It is not only the unsocial members of humanity whom Thomas feels able to praise. It is obvious in many of his poems that he recognises that all men have been given a huge gift when compared to the rest of earth’s creatures. It is this which Thomas is exploring in this poem.

He begins by describing Man physically and sees close parallels between man’s appearance and the appearance of many natural objects. In the wrinkled bark of the tree for example, he can see the aged skin of the man; in the branches he can see the man’s skeletal framework and, deep within the man is the heart animating the body in the same way that a singing robin appears to give life to the whole tree in which it perches.

In the second stanza, however, Thomas points out that man is more than his anatomical make up: man has the gift of speech and each speaker is unique; man is capable of smiling and showing warmth. Finally, and less precisely,

“To which of the deciduous brood is german

The angel peeping FROM the latticed eye?”

i.e. where in any tree will we find that touch of God which occasionally shows itself in man?

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