Saturday, May 01, 2010

Who is your favorite religious poet?

Luke Coppen in the Guardian suggests RS Thomas and I agree.

He writes: "In his poems we see him kneeling hour after hour before a bare altar waiting for God to break his silence. But Thomas does not see this silence as proof of God's absence. As he writes in "Nuclear":
"It's not that he can't speak;
who created languages
but God? Nor that he won't;
to say that is to imply
malice. It is just that
he doesn't, or does so at times
when we are not listening, in
ways we have yet to recognise
as speech"
It's this sense of the difficulty of the search for God, of its cost, that makes RS Thomas a major religious poet. He challenges the tendency of modern Christians to offer easy answers to questions people are not asking. There is no cheap feeling in his poetry, no glibness. If you could measure smugness on a scale of one to 10, with Mother Teresa at one end and Jonathan Ross at the other, Thomas would be in minus figures."

"RS Thomas didn't aim to soothe but to unsettle with an unflinching record of his inner life. He saw God in workaday things, such as a field lit up by sunlight. In "The Bright Field", he concludes:
"Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you."
From Wikiquote comes this:


  • I wouldn't say that I'm an orthodox Christian at all and the longer we live in the twentieth century the more fantastic discoveries are made, the more we hear what the universe is like I find it very difficult to be a kind of orthodox believer in Jesus as my saviour and that sort of thing. I'm more interested in the extraordinary nature of God. If there is God, if there is deity, then He, even as the old hymn says, He moves in a mysterious way and I'm fascinated by that mystery and I've tried to write out of that experience of God, the fantastic side of God, the quarrel between the conception of God as a person, as having a human side, and the conception of God as being so extraordinary. ... So these are still things that occupy me, and every now and again, if you're lucky, you're able to make a poem out of this conception of God ... so I suppose I'm trying to appeal to people to open their eyes and their minds to the extraordinary nature of God.
    • "R. S. Thomas in conversation with Molly Price-Owen." in The David Jones Journal R. S. Thomas Special Issue (Summer/Autumn 2001)