Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ronald Stuart Thomas

—R.S. Thomas

Often I try
to analyse the quality
Of its silences. Is this where God hides
From my searching? I have stopped to listen.
After the few people have gone,
To the air recomposing itself
For vigil. It has waited like this
Since the stones grouped themselves about it.
These are the hard ribs
Of a body that our prayers have failed
To animate. Shadows advance
From their corners to take possession
Of places the light held
For an hour. The bats resume
Their business. The uneasiness of the pews
Ceases. There is no other sound
In the darkness but the sound of a man
Breathing, testing his faith
On emptiness, nailing his questions
One by one to an untenanted cross.


—R.S. Thomas

What is this? said God. The obstinacy
Of its refusal to answer
Enraged him. He struck it
Those great blows it resounds
With still. It glowered at
Him, but remained dumb.
Turning on its slow axis
Of pain, reflecting the year
In its seasons. Nature bandaged
Its wounds. Healing in
The smooth sun, it became
Fair. God looked at it
Again, reminded of
An intention. They shall answer
For you, he said. And at once
There were trees with birds
Singing, and through the trees
Animals wandered, drinking
Their own scent, conceding
An absence. Where are you?
He called, and riding the echo
The shapes came, slender
As trees, but with white hands,
Curious to build. On the altars
They made him the red blood
Told what he wished to hear.


—R.S. Thomas

There was a flower blowing
and a hand plucked it.

There was a stream flowing
and a body smirched it.

There was a pure mirror
of water and a face came

and looked in it. There were words
and wars and treaties, and feet trampled

the earth and the wheels
seared it; and an explosion

followed. There was dust
and silence; and out of the dust

a plant grew, and the dew formed
upon it; and a stream seeped

from the dew to construct
a mirror, and the mirror was empty.


—R.S. Thomas

Suddenly after long silence
he has become voluble.
He addresses me from a myriad
directions with the fluency
of water, the articulateness
of green leaves; and in the genes,
too, the components
of my existence. The rock,
so long speechless, is the library
of his poetry. He sings to me
in the chain-saw, writes
with the surgeon's hand
on the skin's parchment messages
of healing. The weather
is his mind's turbine
driving the earth's bulk round
and around on its remedial
journey. I have no need
to despair; as at
some second Pentecost
of a Gentile, I listen to the things
round me: weeds, stones, instruments,
the machine itself, all
speaking to me in the vernacular
of the purposes of One who is.


Thanks, Ronald Stuart! And our thanks to Bloodhound Judy Taylor Graham, who searched-and-rescued R.S.'s two first names for us, finding this entry in
Ronald Stuart Thomas was born in Cardiff in 1913, the son of a sea captain. He was educated at University College of North Wales and later undertook theological training at St Michael's College in Cardiff. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1936. As promised in yesterday's post, TG's copy of Allegra Silberstein's In the Folds will be winging its way to her.


Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their poetry and announcements of Northern California poetry events to for posting on this daily Snake blog. Rights remain with the poets. Previously-published poems are okay for Medusa’s Kitchen, as long as you own the rights. (Please cite publication.)