Rukhaya M.K

A Literary Companion

Poetry Analysis: R.S. Thomas’ “Evans”

The poem that begins in the interrogative is conversational in tone. Note that the interrogative stance adds to the fact that the details are factual, and not a story. Evans and his existence is described in terms of his kitchen, to pertain to the domestic simplicity of his existence. The kitchen is ‘gaunt’ and the flight is ‘bare’; it has nothing to conceal as in a sophisticated culture. The downward flight also signifies,R.S.Thomas the parson-poet coming down to earth, and accepting the bare facts of life. Everything is stark naked as reality is. The kettle’s functionality has deteriorated; its shrill whistle has reduced to a ‘whine’. The atmosphere is ‘cold dark’. “Cold’ because of the lack of warmth and love around him. “Dark’, owing to the ignorance that prevails. Words like ‘stark farm’ point out to the stark reality and abject poverty the poem seems to portray.

The poet begins the poem with “Evans?” implying that the person’s existence has to be reminded of. It comes across as a random topic in the midst of a conversation. “Rain’ that it at once symbolic of fertility and prosperity seems blood-like. Evans stands conspicuously like the one tree ‘Weather-tortured’. Nature that once served as an abode to the simple peasant has worked against him. It connotes Natures final victory over man, over Science.

Nevertheless, it not the abject poverty that haunts the poet. Rather it the ‘dark silting the veins’. The ignorance of the peasant regarding life in general,and his state of being that renders him a stranger, sinks deeply within.It is this reality that seems to penetrates his veins-his life force.It is the hollowness of his existence coupled with spiritual ignorance. But as Words worth claims, the peasant is closer to God, as he is in tune with Nature. The phrase “blocking with silt” also connotes how circumstances have made his life stagnant without the free flow of exuberant life-forces.The word ‘bed’ denotes a resting place, which in this case is ‘bleak’ or unpleasant. The word ‘shore’ has always had positive implications. However, here ‘lonely shore’ is worse than drowning. The poet is isolated from life, from mankind, from brotherhood and from basic inhabitation. The definition of death in this world is ‘permanent separation from loved ones’; therefore the peasant has had a vegetable existence. For, he does not breathe for any fellow being. The parson-poet R.S.Thomas is appalled at this prospect more than anything else.

©Rukhaya MK 2009

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1 Comment

  1. It was very useful . Good reading of the poem .Thanks

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