Friday, March 30, 2007

RS at Easter

For the next four weeks of the Easter break I’m using for the chaplaincy newsletter some poems by RS Thomas, an old curmudgeon of a Welsh priest, sadly dead, whose austere spirituality occasionally glints with real insight.

This week a poem about the Incarnation – God’s ‘coming’ to us in ‘a scorched land of fierce colour’.

Look out for the typical blending of evolution and religious myth (the serpent / river / slime complex) and the nod towards mysticism (Julian of Norwich’s vision of creation as a nutshell in a hand), alongside stark images of human suffering, culminating with just the hint of ultimate hope…

The Coming

And God held in his hand
A small globe. Look, he said.
The son looked. Far off,
As through water, he saw
A scorched land of fierce
Colour. The light burned
There; crusted buildings
Cast their shadows; a bright
Serpent, a river
Uncoiled itself, radiant
With slime.
On a bare
Hill a bare tree saddened
The sky. Many people
Held out their thin arms
To it, as though waiting
For a vanished April
To return to its crossed
Boughs. The son watched
Them. Let me go there, he said.

Taken from RS Thomas, Collected Poems, 1945-1990


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