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Discuss two poems by R.S. Thomas that Show his skill as a poet. How are they Similar or Different?

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Discuss two poems by R.S. Thomas that Show his skill as a poet. How are they Similar or Different? The two poems by R.S.Thomas, 'In Church' and 'The Belfry', express Thomas's feelings about religion, which is a very important aspect of his life, being a minister. The poem 'In Church' depicts his failing faith in Christianity, 'testing his faith, on emptiness, nailing his questions one by one to an untenanted cross'. The use of the word 'untenanted' tells us that Jesus is absent from the cross, a symbolic representation of his faith. He is 'nailing' his questions 'to the cross' in the way Jesus was nailed to the cross, this metaphor shows that he is questioning and testing his faith. He is also 'testing his faith on emptiness,' which emphasises the physical emptiness of the church and also emptiness in terms of his faith. This 'emptiness' creates a sense of unease, which is felt continually throughout the poem. The church had been disturbed by a service, 'the air recomposing itself,' and 'Shadows advance From their corners to take possession Of the places the light held For an hour.' The shadows are dark and suggest an evil presence in the church, which disturbs us. The use of the word 'possession' tells us that it is theirs to occupy and the fact that the light only held it for an hour makes us feel threatened, that we are not safe in the church. ...read more.


The fact that the stones grouped 'themselves' around it backs up that it is a specific atmosphere chosen by the stones. The second poem 'The Belfry' immediately poses morbid feelings of coldness and hardness. He describes the belfry as 'grey, gaunt'. Grey is a cold, dull colour, and it's gauntness gives the impression of a thin belfry that is looming above our heads. We get a sense of monotony and dullness through the dull 'grey' colour and the use of alliteration on the letter G, 'grey, gaunt'. This description may also be reflecting himself. This would also add a sense of age or ancientness to the belfry. He states that 'no sunlight could ever thaw out the music of it's great bell'. The word 'thaw' suggests that the church is freezing, and the bell's 'music' is cold and solid, reflecting his feelings toward his religion being cold and harsh. We get a feeling that this belfry is very dominant from the words 'great' and 'standing up', a sense of fear is felt, again showing the way he feels or the way he sees religion. This fear is emphasised by the word 'terrible'. The way in which 'terrible' is set out in the poem amplifies the feeling even more, 'Of it's great bell; terrible In it's own way, for religion Is like that.' ...read more.


Now it is 'throbbing' telling us that it is alive again and his faith has been restored. He uses the word 'throbbing' to remind us of the metaphor since hearts throb. Both of the poems discuss the decline of the Christian religion. 'In Church' focuses in on his own personal failing faith, whereas 'The Belfry' talks about everyone's failing faith. 'The Belfry' also shows a different point of view as well, which has a brighter feeling. The 'Belfry' is described as 'terrible' and uses words like 'black frost'. 'In Church', has 'silences' and is described as having 'hard ribs'. Both poems generate feelings of silence, coldness and hardness in this way. The two poems both use metaphors relating to a human body, in 'In Church' it uses 'these are the hard ribs of a body'. 'The Belfry' uses the metaphor 'the heart in it's bone belfry'. The poem 'In Church' relates the church to a human body whereas the poem 'The Belfry' relates a churches belfry to a human body. In the poem 'In Church' a man is 'nailing his questions' to a cross and in the poem 'The Belfry' there is a man quietly praying. When Thomas writes about the man 'In Church' we feel that he is actually reflecting his own feelings, whereas the man praying in 'The Belfry' is just referring to people typical of his congregation. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 Alex Ma 11.3 Mr.Hamilton Gateacre CC ...read more.

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