Sound, too? The recorder
that picks up everything picked
up nothing but the natural
background. What language
does the god speak? And the camera's
lens, as sensitive to
an absence as to a presence,
saw what? What is the colour
of his thought?
It was blank, then,
the screen, as far as he
was concerned? It was a bare
landscape and harsh, and geological
its time. But the rock was
bright, the illuminated manuscript
of the lichen. And a shadow,
as we watched, fell, as though
of an unseen writer bending over
It was not cloud
because it was not cold,
and dark only from the candlepower
behind it. And we waited
for it to move, silently
as the spool turned, waited
for the figure that cast it
to come into view for us to
identify it, and it
didn't and we are still waiting.
By R.S. Thomas
from Frequencies (1978)
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
I often call there.
There are no poems in it
for me. But as a gesture
of independence of the speeding
traffic I am a part
of, I stop the car,
turn down the narrow path
to the river, and enter
the church with its clear reflection
There are few services
now; the screen has nothing
to hide. Face to face
with no intermediary
between me and God, and only the water’s
quiet insistence on a time
older than man, I keep my eyes
open and am not dazzled,
so delicately does the light enter
my soul from the serene presence
that waits for me till I come next.
by R. S. Thomas
from Laboratories of the Spirit (1975)
Llananno has a church and the screen mentioned in this poem has been restored. Here are some links if you want to learn about the poem’s subject:
Information with links to maps and more detailed information about the area: http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/RAD/Llananno
Information about the church and its screen’s restoration: http://www.buildingconservation.com/articles/llananno-rood/llananno-rood.htm