Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Country Clergy

I've wanted to post some favourite poetry for some time now, but feared that I might be breaking several copyright laws by doing so. However, emboldened by the example of the Mild Colonial Boy, and flinging caution to the wind, I now post a favourite poem by the Welsh clergyman-poet R.S. Thomas, one of the better English-language poets of the latter half of the 20th century. Perhaps, if you go out and buy a book of his poems as a result of reading this, I'll receive some leniency from the judge!

The photo immediately below is of one of the Welsh villages where Thomas served, and beneath the poem is John Hedgecow's atmospheric 1966 photographic portrait of the poet, where he looks for all the world as though he's just stepped out of a John Cowper Powys novel. Enjoy.

The Country Clergy
by R. S. Thomas (1958)

I see them working in old rectories
By the sun's light, by candle-light,
Venerable men, their black cloth
A little dusty, a little green
With holy mildew. And yet their skulls,
Ripening over so many prayers,
Toppled into the same grave
With oafs and yokels. They left no books,
Memorial to their lonely thought
In grey parishes: rather they wrote
On men's hearts and in the minds
Of young children sublime words
Too soon forgotten. God in his time
Or out of time will correct this.

While on the subject of poetry, John H. at Confessing Evangelical, whose blog is always worth reading, has a good recent post titled 'That We Lose Not The Things Poetical'. Here 'tis :http://www.confessingevangelical.com/?p=2154

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