rsthomas_2It was an unexpected treat falling asleep last night listening to the poetry of R.S.Thomas last night.  ‘Poetry Please’ on Radio 4 was repeating a program to mark the 100th anniversary of the Welsh Poet/Priest .  A fascinating amalgam of extreme nationalism, misanthropic bitterness but also wonder and almost mysticism. His poetry is so powerful that he was short-listed for the Nobel Prize for literature.  It was almost too much listening to poem after poem on the program as they are so rich – it was like being forced to eat a banquet of great food too quickly.  However there was one poem that made me get out of bed to go and dig it out of my small collection of his books. I don’t now why it hadn’t registered before – but I think it is worth reading again and again.

THE ANSWER (by R.S.Thomas)

Not darkness but twilight
In which even the best
of minds must make its way
now. And slowly the questions
occur, vague but formidable
for all that. We pass our hands
over their surface like blind
men feeling for the mechanism
that will swing them aside. They
yield, but only to re-form
as new problems; and one 
does not even do that
but towers immovable
before us. 

Is there no way
of other thought of answering
its challenge? There is an anticipation
of it to the point of
dying. There have been times
when, after long on my knees
in a cold chancel, a stone has rolled
from my mind, and I have looked
in and seen the old questions lie
folded and in a place
by themselves, like the piled
graveclothes of love’s risen body.