Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: R. S. Thomas (IV)

Another -- perhaps final, perhaps not -- R. S. Thomas poem to continue my recent string of them. An alternative title, as you'll see by the end, might be "On Prayer." Whole theologies could be woven out of this extraordinary vision of Thomas's. So I'll leave you to it.

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By R. S. Thomas

Never known as anything
but an absence, I dare not name him
as God. Yet the adjustments
are made. There is an unseen
power, whose sphere is the cell
and the electron. We never catch
him at work, but can only say,
coming suddenly upon an amendment,
that here he has been. To demolish
a mountain you move it stone by stone
like the Japanese. To make a new coat
of an old, you add to it gradually
thread by thread, so such change
as occurs is more difficult to detect.

Patiently with invisible structures
he builds, and as patiently
we must pray, surrendering the ordering
of the ingredients to a wisdom that
is beyond our own. We must change the mood
to the passive. Let the deaf men
be helped; in the silence that has come
upon them, let some influence
work so that those closed porches
be opened once more. Let the bomb
swerve. Let the raised knife of the murderer
be somehow deflected. There are no
laws there other than the limits of
our understanding. Remembering rock
penetrated by glass-blade, corrected
by water, we must ask rather
for the transformation of the will
to evil, for more loving
mutations, for the better ventilating
of the atmosphere of the closed mind.

1 comment:

  1. "...for the better ventilating
    of the atmosphere of the closed mind."

    Love it!