Thought, yet more thought! Poor artist of the word,
thought’s priest! For you there can be no forgetting;
it’s all here, here are people and the world
and death and life and truth without a veil.
Ah! Chisel, cello, brush, happy the man
drawn to you by his senses, going no further.
He can drink freely at the world’s great feast!
But in your presence, thought, in your sharp rays,
before your unsheathed sword, our life grows pale.
by Евгений Абрамович Баратынский (Yevgeny Abramovich Baratynsky)
translated by Peter France
And he grasps him by the hair
With innocent savagery.
And the son’s face is calm;
There is trust there.
And the beast looks on.
This is what art could do,
With serene chisel.
The resistant stone
Is quiet as our breath,
And is accepted.
by R. S. Thomas
from The Bread of Truth (1963)
Fun fact: Souillac is a small market town, and is the hub for the area. This is an agricultural region which is known for its walnuts, strawberries and quiet, rural way of life. Thomas visited the abbey church of Sainte-Marie in this town and that is the subject of this poem. The domed roofs are similar to but rather smaller than those of Périgueux Cathedral. Fragments of the original Romanesque sculptures are grouped just inside the west door.