Click here for a good article about R.S.Thomas.

Here’s a poem of his. After delivering a service, he contemplates the silence and emptiness of the Church. The cross is ‘untenanted’: there is an absence. For Thomas, the absence, the emptiness, the cold stone, the darkness are ‘testing his faith’, a faith which perhaps he feels is always tested, and something deeper than words.

In Church

by R. S. Thomas



Often I try

To analyse the quality

Of its silences. Is this where God hides

From my searching? I have stopped to listen,

After the few people have gone,

To the air recomposing itself

For vigil. It has waited

like this

Since the stones grouped themselves about it.

These are the hard ribs

Of a body that our prayers have failed

To animate. Shadows advance

From their corners to take possession

Of places the light held

For an hour. The bats resume

Their business.

The uneasiness of the pews

Ceases. There is no other sound

In the darkness but the sound of a man

Breathing, testing his faith

On emptiness, nailing his questions

One by one to an untenanted cross.


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