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Welsh poet R.S. Thomas was an ardent Welsh nationalist and advocate for independence. Although a native English speaker he learned and conversed in Welsh, although he never felt fluent enough to use it for his poetry. Yet in spite of his nationalist beliefs, his poems often painted bleak and highly critical pictures of Welsh people. Consider, from "On the Farm":

There was Dai Puw. He was no good.
They put him in the fields to dock swedes,
And took the knife from him, when he came home
At late evening with a grin
Like the slash of a knife on his face.

There was Llew Puw, and he was no good.
Every evening after the ploughing
With the big tractor he would sit in his chair,
And stare into the tangled fire garden,
Opening his slow lips like a snail.

Or from "A Peasant":

So are his days spent, his spittled mirth
Rarer than the sun that cracks the cheeks
Of the gaunt sky perphaps once a week.
And then at night see him fixed in his chair
Motionless, except when he leans to gob in the fire.
There is something frightening in the vacancy of his mind.

Or from "A Welsh Landscape":

An impotent people
Sick with inbreeding
Worrying the carcase of an old song

How did Thomas reconcile his nationalistic sentiments with these extremely dim views of the Welsh people?

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    I know nothing about this guy or his works, but maybe he was trying to say that the Welsh people were so useless and "impotent" because of their oppression by the English? – Rand al'Thor Feb 14 '17 at 14:07
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    Also, who ever said nationalism made sense? – Rand al'Thor Feb 14 '17 at 14:07
  • @Randal'Thor I suspect this is the case. However, Thomas also wrote a lot of prose and letters in Welsh (which I cannot read) and many critics and academics draw on this to support interpretations of his work but I have not seen any of it referenced in answer to this paradox. I suspect there's material for a good and useful answer somewhere if someone can find it. – Bob Tway Feb 14 '17 at 14:11
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  • I don't entirely understand the assumption behind the question, is it a given that Nationalism and a desire for your country to be independent should blind you to and gag you regarding realities of the people? – Spagirl Feb 15 '17 at 11:34

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