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R.S.Thomas ‘Peasant Greeting’

No speech; the raised hand affirms

All that is left unsaid,

By the mute tongue and the unmoistened lips:

The land’s patience and a tree’s

Knotted endurance and

The heart’s doubt whether to curse or bless,

All packed into a single gesture.

The knees crumble to the downward pull

Of the harsh earth, the eyes,

Fuddled with coldness, have no skill to smile.

Life’s bitter jest is hollow, mirthless he slips

To his long grave under the wave of the wind,

That breaks continually on the brittle ear.