Saturday, January 13, 2007

R. S. Thomas part 1

My thought for the day is a poem by the Welsh poet R.S.Thomas entitled "Adjustments":

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...

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 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.

Ronald Stuart Thomas was one of the most extraordinary literary figures of the twentieth century. He was born in 1913 and died in 2000. He was an Anglican priest in remote Welsh parishes for all of his working life. He wrote in English and spoke in the accents of an upper class Englishman (which he was not by birth). He was a strong, even fanatical, Welsh nationalist, who learned Welsh at 30 and sometimes pretended not to speak English. Though a Christian, he was by no means always charitable. He was known for his awkwardness and taciturnity; most photographs show him as formidable, bad-tempered, and apparently humorless.

In this poem, a trace of the theme pervading his work can be seen. “Are not three-quarters of our modern ills,” he asked, “due to the fact that we have forgotten how to live . . . ?” We adjust ourselves in the bending fabric of our relationships: marriage, family, friendships; in formation through daily prayer, and corporate worship. In these circumstances we are consciously passive more often than active agents. But extraordinary things happen in the lines using the subjunctive "Let" going way beyond human expectations of what is possible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful

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