Today I am returning to one of my favorite poets, R.S. Thomas. (1913-2000) A man of devout faith and honest doubt. Throughout his life he experienced the proximity and the elusiveness of God. Most of his life was lived in Wales and over the years as he served as a priest in the Anglican Church in Wales, he moved from parish to parish ever more remote and closer to the north west coast. In many of his poems you can find the bleak beauty of the landscape and the hard lives of the peasant farmers as abiding themes. He lived full and square in the paradoxes of life and faith; the seen and unseen, the knowing and the unknowing, the presence and the absence., belief and doubt. I offer you his poem Near and Far and as Thomas often said he wrote poems first for himself and after that others could join in and make of it what they wished. Therefore, I offer no interpretation, its simply up to you. I urge you though to spend a little time with his words and perhaps pick out a line or two which cause you to pause and ponder.
Today I return to one of my favorite poets, R.S. Thomas (1913-2000). He was born and lived most of his life in Wales. He was a priest in the Anglican Church of Wales , and as the years rolled by he moved from one remote parish to yet another more remote parish and he eventually retired to the small coastal village of Sarn, close to Aberdaron. A man of devout faith who all his life lived in the paradox of the presence and the elusiveness of God. Although he seldom left Wales he was, at his death, hailed as a major European poet. In many of his poems you will find the bleak beauty of landscape and the hard lives of the peasant farmers, as abiding themes. I offer to you his poem Near and Far. I will not offer any interpretation, it is up to you to make of it what you will. Thomas often said he wrote poems first for himself and if anyone joined in, well and good. I urge you to read his words slowly, carefully., and allow your imagination to do its work! Pause and ponder the lines and pay attention to what strikes a chord or causes a surprise as you read.
(I will offer my next post in about ten days.)
Near and Far
No one so busy
as you are. Where is that
seventh day when you rest
from your labour? I arise
from sleep to find that
you have been all night growing.
And by day you are abroad
endlessly exploring a circumference
by which you are not confined.
You have no words yet vibrate
in me with the resonance of an Amen.
You are strung with light
as with nerves across which
thought is drawn to deliver
intellectual music. Sometimes
you are an impulse upon my walls,
at others a modifying
of unseen organisms, slowly
and delicately as a mutation;
but always as far off
as you are near, terrifying
me as much by your proximity
as by your being light-years away. R.S. Thomas: Collected Later Poems 1988-2000
be present to me this day.
You, O Lord of all things,
come close and in the closeness
help me to believe.
You, O Lord of all things
You, who are beyond my understanding,
You, who are before and beyond time,
You who are both near and far
come, that I might be more human,
come, that I might be more hopeful,
come, that I might be more forgiving,
come, that I might be more faithful.
Come and help me to follow. Amen.
One thought on “Near and Far”
Maybe didn’t manage to post my previous comment. Anyhow, it was appreciation of RS Thomas. What a gift for “lightness” of words; space for thought, feeling, interpretation . Thanks Edward