April 4 – “Life is not hurrying . . . . on to a receding future . . . ” R. S. Thomas

Monday, April  4
“ . . .  and gone my way  .  .  .  .  .  and forgotten it”

Another good friend, Springs Steele, emailed this poem to me early today.  I had not been familiar with R. S. Thomas.  Since opening Springs’ email I’ve been learning a little about this Anglican pastor (Church of Wales), who lived with passion for simplicity (“Thomas’s son, Gwydion, a resident of Thailand, recalls his father’s sermons, in which he would “drone on” to absurd lengths about the evil of refrigerators, washing machines, televisions and other modern devices”  Wikipedia).  He acquired a reputation for dour theological attention to questions of meaning and earned a reputation for remoteness.  Robinson was not given to excesses of joviality, but his personality was balanced by a rich capacity for attention to stillness and beauty.  In the words of Archbishop Barry Morgan, “R. S. Thomas continues to articulate through his poetry questions that are inscribed on the heart of most Christian pilgrims in their search for meaning and truth. We search for God and feel Him near at hand, only then to blink and find Him gone. This poetry persuades us that we are not alone in this experience of faith – the poet has been there before us.”[15]

In my reading of this fine poet, a new acquaintance,   stillness trumps frowning.   As with every strong poem, “Bright Field” rewards reading out loud, with pauses.

Have a blest week.

john sj


Today’s post:  “The Bright Field”
R S Thomas

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.


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