What I’ve Been Doing When I Haven’t Been Posting

Poetry for Supper R.S. ThomasSo where have I been on Wednesdays?

Does my absence from my blog site mean that I’m giving up my mid-week posts? Not at all.

Snowed in? No, though there’s been snow at Saint Corny by the Quarry; indeed, it’s snowing now, “snow on snow, snow on snow.” But being snowed in should impel, not impede, writing.

Self-snowed? Well . . . things I’ve chosen to do are drifting about me.

One of which is that I’ve been writing synopses of the talks about R. S. Thomas and his poetry that I’m scheduled to give next May in Wales, at Gladstone’s Library and Aberdaron.

The synopses, now completed, are guiding my rereading of Thomas’s poetry. Over the past few days, I read to the empty chairs in my living room the poems in Poetry for Supper (1967), then turned to Thomas’s autobiographical poems in The Echoes Return Slow (1988).

The point of all this poetry-reading to emptiness? The filling of my mind with poems I haven’t used before to illustrate the ways I’m re-articulating my view of Thomas and his poetry.

the echoes return slow RS  ThomasMy goal is to imitate Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti, who once said: “I continually see things in a new way. . . . If I look at a painting by Rembrandt today, I never see it the way I saw it yesterday.”

When I look at Thomas today, I don’t want to stand where I was standing yesterday. Certainly, I’m likely to go on seeing him as a man of the borders, but I’d like to approach those borders across fresh terrain.

Thomas lived, not always in fact but always in imagination, at the border where land, sea, and sky intermingle – a border that symbolizes the edging into one another of the finite and the infinite; the meeting place of the immanent and transcendent worlds.

Even though Thomas moved during his lifetime farther and farther to the west, away from the geographical border between England and Wales, he always lived on the psychological border between Wales and England; on the border, too, between the English and Welsh languages. Thomas, even when he was experiencing location of place, never overcame his “dislocation of mind.”

Finally, Thomas lived, as this blog announces post by post, on the border between doubt and belief. “There is always,” Thomas writes, “the thin pane of glass set up between us / And our desires.”

Prose and poetry quoted in this blog:

“I continually see things in a new way” – Matisse: Father and Son by John Russell, 327.

“dislocation of mind” – untitled poem in The Echoes Return Slow, 5.

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2 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Doing When I Haven’t Been Posting

  1. Rowan Williams led me across new terrain last week, to approach RS from a different perspective, to see some of his poetry, his meditations, looking more like Buddhist practise than conventional Anglican routine.

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