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R. S. Thomas on Good Friday

by Richard on April 22, 2011

It was quiet. What had the sentry
to cry, but that it was the ninth hour
and all was not well? The darkness
began to lift, but it was not the mind
was illumined. The carpenter
had done his work well to sustain
the carpenter’s burden; the Cross an example
of the power of art to transcend timber.


Who was the janitor
with the set face, wardening
the approaches? I had prepared
my apologies, my excuses
for coming by the wrong
road. There was no one
there, only the way
I had come by going on and on.
From R.S. Thomas, No Truce with the Furies (Newcastle on Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1995), p. 30.


Verse for Lent

by Kim on March 10, 2011

What is the nature of our sin
That it deserves so beautifully
To be forgiven?
R.S. Thomas


Advent Calendar, Rowan Williams

by Richard on November 28, 2010

He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.
He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens to mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.
He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting [...]


So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb, for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And [...]


“Sin” by D. Gwenallt Jones

by Kim on December 6, 2009

Take off the business suit, the old-school tie,
The gown, the cap, drop the reviews, awards,
Certificates, stand naked in your sty,
A little carnivore, clothed in dried turds.
The snot that slowly fills our passages
Seeps up from the hollows where the dead beasts lie;
Dumb stamping dances spell our messages,
We only know what makes our arrows fly.
Lost in the [...]

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I saw the Prince of Darkness, with his Staff,
Standing bare-headed by the Cenotaph:
Unostentatious and respectful, there
He stood, and offered up the following prayer.
“Make them forget, O Lord, what this Memorial
Means; their discredited ideas revive;
Breed new belief that War is purgatorial
Proof of the pride and power of being alive;
Men’s biologic urge to readjust
The Map of Europe, [...]


A Man’s a Man for A’ That

by Richard on January 25, 2009

A bit o’ poetry for Burns Night. Haggis and neeps, anyone?
Is there for honest poverty
That hings his head, an a’ that?
The coward slave, we pass him by -
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, an a’ that!
Our toils obscure, an a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The man’s the gowd for a’ [...]


Blake and the Bible

by Richard on December 11, 2008

Kim posts over at Faith and Theology on Blake and the Bible. He’ll only blub if I don’t give him a link. Here’s a taster:
Chesterton declared: “Critics say his [Blake’s] visions were false because he was mad. I say he was mad because his visions were true.” Absolutely! “Mad” in the way St. John the [...]


I went to Heaven -
‘Twas a small Town -
Lit - with a Ruby -
Lathed - with Down -
Stiller - than the fields
At the full Dew -
Beautiful - as Pictures -
No Man drew.
People - like the Moth -
Of Mechlin - frames -
Duties - of Gossamer -
And Eider - names -
Almost - contented -
I - could be [...]

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Advent Themes (iii): two poems on Hell

by Kim on December 7, 2008

Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,
Said then the lost Arch Angel, this the seat
That we must change for Heav’n, this mournful gloom
For that celestial light? Be it so ….
… Hail, horrors, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new possessor: One who brings
A mind not to be chang’d by place or [...]


Advent Themes (ii): two poems on Judgement

by Kim on December 5, 2008

Holy Sonnet VII
At the round of earth’s imagin’d corners, blow
Your trumpets, Angels, and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scatter’d bodies go -
All whom the flood did, and fire shall o’erthrow,
All whom war, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance hath slain, and you whose eyes,
Shall behold God, and never taste death’s [...]


They did not speak of death
But went around and round the subject deviously.
They were out of breath
With keeping it at bay. When would they see
That they were burdened with
Dying like other men?
Immediate mourners know the whole of grief
When they’ve seen the dying in pain
And the gradual move toward the end of life.
O death comes [...]


In the orgy of December, many people are surprised when I remind them that Advent is a penitential season in which Christians, traditionally, prepare for the second coming of Christ by meditating on the themes of death, judgement, hell and heaven, themes that stretch the imagination to breaking point and, for deep-thought, invite us into [...]

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