Maintaining spirituality in an industrialized world: An ecocritical look at the poetry of R. S. Thomas

Christine Elizabeth Gleason, University of Texas at El Paso


In the essay entitled From Transcendence to Obsolescence, Harold Fromm purports that as humanity advances technologically, man inevitably becomes detached from nature. Fromm suggests that because of calamitous living conditions during and after the Industrial Revolution, spirituality became progressively more crucial in order to tolerate what was becoming a dreary physical existence. However, the more industrialized the world has become, the less spiritual man has become. Since humanity's “roots of being” are in the earth, the further humanity is removed from nature, the less spiritual he/she is. ^ In the poetry of R. S. Thomas, the idea of spirituality being directly tied to the earth is profuse. Through poems like Welsh Landscape and A Peasant, characters like Iago Prytherch, and religious poems that praise the glory of the Lord transcended through the landscape, the reader can see exactly how the spirituality of the individual is affected when machines replace the jobs man once did. My thesis, therefore, focuses on the importance of spirituality in the poems of R. S. Thomas. I prove that according to Thomas, the more industrial a society becomes, the harder it is for spirituality to prevail in the life of the individual unless aggressive personal effort is made to maintain a relationship with God. Spirituality, then is directly tied to the earth and without that connection, man cannot be spiritually whole. ^ I attack this thesis using a “Green Theory” (Ecocriticical) perspective. A brief autobiographical section is included because understanding Thomas' Anglican roots is pertinent to understanding the deep religious sensibilities some of his poems convey. However, the focus of the paper will be Thomas' approach to maintaining individual spirituality in an industrialized world. ^

Subject Area

Religion, Philosophy of|Literature, English

Recommended Citation

Gleason, Christine Elizabeth, "Maintaining spirituality in an industrialized world: An ecocritical look at the poetry of R. S. Thomas" (2005). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1427704.