Mar 16 2018

R. S. Thomas – The Moor

Published by at 7:37 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


/ Image by xelcise /

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, with reverence and receptivity.

This is one of the great gifts of living nature, it can release us from our endless mental and social constructions. 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 its 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.


Recommended Books: R. S. Thomas

For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics Soul Food: Nourishing Poems for Starved Minds R. S. Thomas: Selected Poems R. S. Thomas (Everyman Poetry) R. S. Thomas: Collected Poems 1945-1990
More Books >>


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

Wales (1913 – 2000) Timeline
Christian

The son of a 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 dabbled in poetry 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

7 responses so far

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

  1. Amardeep Singhon 16 Mar 2018 at 11:31 am

    Nice poem and commentary, Ivan. Thank you. I love the ending.

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

  2. kathleen E Daltonon 16 Mar 2018 at 4:00 pm

    I relate very deeply to these beautiful words. I have said many times that nature is my therapist and my religion. It made me think of Emily Dickenson’s poem that starts : “Some keep the Sabbath going to church” Ivan, your comments really brought it alive

    THank you
    Kathleen Dalton

  3. Nanci Lon 17 Mar 2018 at 12:04 am

    This poem takes my breath away…for me that is the mark of great art, music, poetry or prose. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  4. Nanci Lon 17 Mar 2018 at 12:06 am

    Also, I am so excited to hear Roger Housden has a new Ten Poems book. I have absolutely loved his other books. Highly recommend.

  5. Michael Evanson 17 Mar 2018 at 2:03 am

    Thank you for your helpful commentary, if anyone reading this likes RS Thomas then you might be interested in facebook.com/groups/22240849843 and/or twitter @RSThomaspoet – share RS Thomas poems, quotes, events, info, Q&A etc…

  6. Annaon 18 Mar 2018 at 8:31 am

    This beautiful poem reminded me a lot about Ryokan’s poem “This world”
    and I have re-read it again today along with Ivan’s commentary.

    Our perceptions of the world continually are changing, shifting,
    transforming completely both us as well the world.

    “A fading
    Mountain echo
    Void and
    Unreal”

    Lately had an inner vision as well partly physical of
    billions of tiny but incredibly potent energies look
    somewhat like crystalline “snowflakes”,
    each one different and incredibly beautiful,
    razor-sharp on every edge and angle,
    each slightly different in their
    unique patterns and shapes.

    Probably Ryokan have “seen” such snowflakes…
    who knows…

    We are going to be “completely consumed”…

    Really…

    The ego mind would no more projects false reality…

    This world

    by Ryokan

    English version by John Stevens
    Original Language Japanese

    This world
    A fading
    Mountain echo
    Void and
    Unreal

    Within
    A light snow
    Three Thousand Realms
    Within those realms
    Light snow falls

    As the snow
    Engulfs my hut
    At dusk
    My heart, too
    Is completely consumed

    Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

    In states of clear perception, the mind no longer projects false notions upon reality. The world perceived by most people is seen as being ghost-like, visible but empty or unreal, “a fading mountain echo.”

    Ryokan sees snow falling, permeating everything, “engulfing” his hut, making all realms one and covered with whiteness. This awareness of the empty nature of things is not a negative one. Within that void, an immense sense of life is recognized as shining through everything. The “realms” are unreal, even the “hut” of the physical body is recognized as a mere appearance, but the shining and deeply quiet “snow” fills and surrounds everything.

    “At dusk,” when the mind is finally at rest and the last vestiges of the ego fade, the “heart, too / Is completely consumed” — revealing the core identity as nothing less than that sanctifying shining presence everywhere.

  7. Ivan M. Grangeron 21 Mar 2018 at 5:34 pm

    What a lovely vision of snowflakes. And, as always, you wrote about it with such poetry in your words. Thank you for sharing that! ~Ivan

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