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No more Protestant poets — 4 Comments

  1. Ian,
    I’m sure you are familiar with one of the greatest lyric poets of the 20th century; and certainly one of the greatest religious poets of all time, the Anglican priest R. S. Thomas. So, this is for anybody who might stop by and who hasn’t read him:

    The Belfry

    I have seen it standing up grey,
    Gaunt, as though no sunlight
    Could ever thaw out the music
    Of its great bell; terrible
    In its own way, for religion
    Is like that. There are times
    When a black frost is upon
    One’s whole being, and the heart
    In its bone belfry hangs and is dumb.

    But who is to know? Always,
    Even in winter in the cold
    Of a stone church, on his knees
    Someone is praying, whose prayers fall
    Steadily through the hard spell
    Of weather that is between God
    And himself. Perhaps they are warm rain
    That brings the sun and afterwards flowers
    On the raw graves and throbbing of bells.

  2. The clergy conference for Dublin and Glendalough diocese in 2000 was held in Llandudno. It included a Saint David’s Day pilgrimage led by A.M. Allchin; a pilgrimage that concluded with Holy Communion in the church where R.S. Thomas had been Rector. During the administration of communion, Allchin read poems by Thomas. I cannot read lines from him now without thinking of that magical, unrepeatable day from ten years ago.

    I wonder if we would have space for a Thomas now.

  3. I wonder if we would have space for a Thomas now…

    …of course we could. Despite a hugely paradoxical personality, he wrote with ferocious honesty and stark clarity about nature and about the nature of the human soul. His ‘Collected Poems’ is a constant bedside companion.

  4. We could; I’m not sure we would, though! Bishops would be loathe to appoint someone so potentially troublesome.

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