Monday, March 3, 2008

Some things speak for themselves!

OK I know this is a site for Lay Preachers (principally) but this post is about a lovely, arguably very great poem which captures the flavours of rural ministry.

The Country Clergy
by R. S. Thomas;
introduced by Mick Imlah
Fifty years ago, in March, 1958, The TLS published "The Country Clergy" by R. S. Thomas. Thomas, who died in 2000 at the age of eighty-seven, identified himself closely with the Welsh land and language, though he was not a native speaker of the latter. When he wrote "The Country Clergy", he himself had already been an Anglican minister in rural Wales for more than twenty years: at Chirk in Denbighshire, Tallam Green in Flintshire and Manafon, Montgomeryshire. Severe, stony, sometimes ill-humoured, scathing alike of Welsh peasant and English influence, his poems are widely taught in schools.
(From The Times Literary Supplement - Poem of the Week)

The Country Clergy

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.

R. S. THOMAS (1958)

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