“Budding the Trees with Their Notes” | Memories of R.S. Thomas

RS Thomas at Castell-y-Bere Wales

RS Thomas at Castell-y-Bere Wales

A chorus of small birds musiced the sky.

R. S. Thomas lowered his powerful field-glasses and, turning to me, said, “It’s the first time I’ve heard those migrants this spring.”

It was May 5, 1993, and we were walking up to the ruins of Castell-y-Bere, with which Thomas had a tangy anti-English association.

The castle was Welsh, taken by the English in 1283, rebuilt for King Edward I, and retaken by Welsh insurgents in 1295.

Then destroyed . . . by the Welsh.

That destruction, I think, is one reason why Thomas was drawn to the site.

I imagine him hearing the Welsh insurgents saying, “We can’t keep you English lot out, but we’re not going to roll over and let you use our castle to keep us down.”

Back to the chorus ofsmall birds: With their morning anthem, they were “quietly repairing / The rents of history.”

Castell-y-Bere Wales

Castell-y-Bere Wales

Those small birds – who re-leafed / the trees” when they landed in their branches, and budded “them with their notes” – were heralds of nature’s old triumph over human madness.

The energy of life is still everywhere: Small birds continue to music the sky.

The quotes are from “For the Record,” Pietà, 22; “A Thicket in Lleyn,” Experimenting with an Amen, 45.

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