It was like a church to me.
I entered it on soft foot,
Breath held like a cap in the hand.
It was quiet.
What God was there made himself felt,
Not listened to, in clean colours
That brought a moistening of the eye,
In movement of the wind over grass.
There were no prayers said. But stillness
Of the heart’s passions – that was praise
Enough; and the mind’s cession
Of its kingdom. I walked on,
Simple and poor, while the air crumbled
And broke on me generously as bread.
by R. S Thomas
from Pietà (1966)
How will the lion remain a lion
if it eat straw like the ox?
Where will the little child lead them
who has not been there before?
With our right hand off, with what
shall we beg forgiveness in the kingdom?
How shall the hare know it has not won,
dying before the tortoise arrive?
Did Christ crying ‘Neither do I condemn thee’,
condemn the prostitute to be good for nothing?
If he who increases riches increases sorrow
why are his tears more like pearls than the swine’s tusks?
by R. S. Thomas
from Mass for Hard Times (1992)
It’s a long way off but inside it
There are quite different things going on:
Festivals at which the poor man
Is king and the consumptive is
Healed; mirrors in which the blind look
At themelves and love looks at them
Back; and industry is for mending
The bent bones and the minds fractured
By life. It’s a long way off, but to get
There takes no time and admission
Is free, if you will purge yourself
Of desire, and present yourself with
Your need only and the simple offering
Of your faith, green as a leaf.
by R. S. Thomas
from H’m (1972)