Mar 28 2014

R. S. Thomas – The Moor

Published by at 8:40 am under Poetry

The Moor
by R. S. Thomas

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.

— from For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics, by Roger Housden


/ Photo by xelcise /

Something for you today by the Welsh poet and clergyman, R. S. Thomas…

It was like a church to me.

Isn’t this a wonderful way to step into the wild?

I entered it on soft foot,
Breath held like a cap in the hand.

The proper approach to the natural world — quiet, reverence, and receptivity.

This is one of the great gifts of living nature, it can release us from the endless mental and social constructions of humanity. We receive the opportunity to witness the wider reality. The limitations of our thoughts, our lives, the ambitions of the human world, are revealed amidst the larger landscape.

It was quiet.
What God was there made himself felt,
Not listened to…

Nature offers us a direct experience of communion. These are not sermons or discourses that pass through the ear to be sifted and sorted by the brain before, hopefully, some truth trickles into the deeper awareness. This is the living stillness touching the heart.

There were no prayers said. But stillness
Of the heart’s passions — that was praise
Enough; and the mind’s cession
Of its kingdom.

Notice the break in the first line of the verse above. “There were no prayers said. But stillness–” By ending the line on “stillness,” the mind contemplating these words naturally halts, finding its own stillness. The mind unconsciously reads the line as if it was a complete sentence, “There were no prayers said, but stillness.” Stillness, then, becomes the prayer.

And the powerful line break dividing the second and third lines. We read them as, “That was praise!” followed by “Enough.” On a certain level that isolated “enough” captures the essence here: He is speaking of the stillness of the heart’s passions and the mind finally yielding it’s control. “Enough!” Enough of the busy mind and the hungry heart.

The quiet breath of the natural world remind us that stillness is the real praise, and prayer, and presence.

I walked on,
Simple and poor, while the air crumbled
And broke on me generously as bread.

Mmm.

R. S. Thomas, R. S. Thomas poetry, Christian poetry R. S. Thomas

Wales (1913 – 2000) Timeline
Christian

The son of sailor, Thomas led an unsettled life in early childhood, moving with his family from port town to port town.

As an adult, R. S. Thomas became an Anglican priest, serving rural Welsh farming communities.

Thomas had dabbled in poetry as in school, but it wasn’t until he met the painter Mildred E. Eldridge, the woman who would become his wife, that be began to take poetry seriously.

More poetry by R. S. Thomas

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “R. S. Thomas – The Moor”

  1. martina Nicholsonon 28 Mar 2014 at 1:52 pm

    THis is lovely and helpful exegesis— I love what you say about this poem! Thanks, martina

  2. Terri Stewarton 28 Mar 2014 at 2:12 pm

    This was delicious bread for the senses.

  3. Pegon 29 Mar 2014 at 9:36 am

    I have been searching for the right words to share with you on this poem. I can’t find them. There is only this delicious silence.

  4. Bob Corbinon 29 Mar 2014 at 2:13 pm

    One of my most favorite poems and poets.
    I was so lucky to see it today.
    I have missed too much “church” lately.

    Btw, do you know the poet, Nancy C. Wood
    who died last year year at 76
    leaving a legacy of poetry and story
    based on one of the Pueblo cultures of the American Southwest.
    I consider some of her poems to be sacred poetry,
    and beautiful.

  5. Carolon 30 Mar 2014 at 3:37 am

    Thank you, Ivan.

    I have long valued silence – still talk entirely too much! Perhaps this poet
    will help with my journey: the silence holds with its gloved hand, the wild hawk
    of the mind. R.S. Thomas

  6. Therese Monaghan O.P.on 30 Mar 2014 at 7:11 am

    I missed hearing from you, Ivan, and hope you are well.
    Again, your choice today energized me.
    Oh, yes–I kept saying reading R.S. Thomas’s words:
    soft foot, moistening eye, stillness, praise enough.
    We need so little to be nourished. Praise enough.
    Blessings to you. And thank you.

    Therese

  7. Ivan M. Grangeron 30 Mar 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Bob ~
    I’m not familiar with Nancy C. Wood, but I’ll look her work up. Thanks for the recommendation.
    ~Ivan

  8. Beryl Singleton Bissellon 31 Mar 2014 at 7:29 am

    A much needed reminder! Thanks Ivan.

  9. Jeffon 02 Apr 2014 at 2:05 pm

    This is absolutely lovely. Thank you for sharing.

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