Not a person, neither
less than, since we are so,
yet darkening your countenance
once for a long moment
as you looked at yourself
on a hill-top in Judea.
Your mastery is to be both
outside and inside, standing off
from the primary explosion,
entering in to its quieter
repetitions in acorn and spermatozoa.
You have given us the ability
to ask the unanswerable question,
to have glimpses of you
as you were, only to stand dumb
at the limits of our articulation.
Is it our music interprets you
best, a heart-beat at the very centre
of your creation? Is it art,
depicting man's figure as the conductor
to your lightning? Had I
the right words, it is the poem
that would announce you to
an amazed audience; no longer
a linguistic wrestling but a signal
projected at you and returning quick
with the unpredictabilities at your centre.
—R. S. Thomas. No truce with the Furies. Highgreen: Bloodaxe, 1995.
That there is the unfamiliar
too. That there is a landscape
that will through all time
resist our endeavours
at domestication. There is one
who models his disguises
without a thought, to whom
invisibility is as natural
as it is to be above
or below sound. He hides himself
in a seed so that exploding
silently he pervades the world.
He is the wilderness imprisoned
under our flagstones yet escaping
from them in a haemorrhage
of raw flowers. He bares his teeth
in the lightening, delivering
his electric bite, appals us
with his thunder only to unnerve us
further with the blessing of his held breath
—R. S. Thomas. Residues. Highgreen: Bloodaxe, 2002.
"He bares his teeth in the lightning, delivering his electric bite …"
you were tempted in all things as we are.
Have mercy on our frailty. Out of weakness, give us strength. Grant to us holy awe, awe of you only. Support us when we are tempted. Embolden us in time of danger. Help us to do your work with courage.
W.A. Mozart. Great Mass in C minor (K.427).
Bavarian Radio Choir and Orchestra, conducted by Leonard Bernstein.
May God our Redeemer show us compassion and love. Amen.