Saturday 20 August 2022

'It was always weather'

 In Lichfield, that 'city of philosophers', the talk often turns to weather. Indeed, the weather might well be the number one topic of conversation, and lately there has been plenty to talk about, what with the heatwave and the dramatic downpours that broke it. I have no problem with this, as I find weather as interesting a topic as any, and one that is far more than merely the small change of everyday conversation. In the end there is little that is more basic to our life on earth than the weather – as it has a habit of reminding us whenever it gets extreme, and if we happen to find ourselves out of doors, in the thick of it, on a day of heavy weather. It affects our mood, our emotions, our physical health, and indeed our brain function, as that recent heatwave reminded us. Because of its potentially devastating, famine-inducing impact on farming and food production, weather was surely a central preoccupation of every agrarian society, and is still of huge importance to farmers, even in countries with the most highly developed agriculture. And of course this preoccupation, this lively fear of adverse weather, fed into early forms of religion – and more evolved ones: there were impassioned prayers for rain and for fair weather in the first Book of Common Prayer, and even the 1928 edition contains a prayer for 'seasonable' weather ('Send us, we beseech thee, such seasonable weather that we may receive the fruits of the earth to our comfort, and thy honour.'). Here is R.S. Thomas's take on it all...


It was always weather. 
The reason for our being
was to record it, telling it
how it was hot, cold, wet
to the pointlessness of saturation.
It was a disposition
of the impersonal, an expression
on what could have been
blank space. It repeated itself
in a way we were never tired
of listening to. 'Do that again,'
we implored it on the morrow
of a fine day. When it was grey
you could have described it
as sullen. On sparkling mornings
it flashed us smile after smile so
we became familiar with it.
It breathed then into our very being
refrigerating us. To curse it
was to have it regard us
out of the mildest of skies,
fondling us with the wind's
tapering fingers. They say
it was like this before 
our arrival. How could it
have been without us
to convince it? What, when we
have gone, will become 
of it, endlessly occurring
over our vocabulary's Sahara?


  1. Diolch, thank you for this. If anyone reading it likes RS Thomas then you might be interested in and/or twitter @RSThomaspoet - share RS Thomas poems, quotes, events, info, Q&A etc…
    - and there’s a Society you can join…

  2. Thanks for that, Michael. As you probably know, this blog is pretty big on R.S. Thomas (try a search)...