David Anderson—R.S. Thomas: Poet of the Cross

Posted by Kendall Harmon

R.S. Thomas, the Welsh poet and Anglican priest who died a little more than a decade ago, left a body of work that is slowly becoming recognized as among the best and most important religious poetry of the twentieth century.

Like the century itself, however, it is not easily orthodox or pretty. Its bleak moods and near despair reflect the pull of doubt that defined those decades for many, including believers. As such, it stands outside the mainstream of the dominant, God-affirming, sacramental poetry that looks back to Gerard Manley Hopkins’s affirmation that “the world is charged with the grandeur of God.”

Yet Hopkins was also the poet of the “terrible sonnets”—bitter spiritual laments that Thomas described as “but a human repetition of the cry from the cross”: My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? Thomas’s own prolific poetic outpouring explored this very question, and his work continues to resonate with compelling freshness and urgency as a new century of uncertainty unfolds.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Wales

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Posted April 28, 2011 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]
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