For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Via Negativa

In yesterday's Guardian Review Blake Morrison writes: It's often said that 'books take us out of ourselves', but in reality the best literature is surreptitiously taking us inside ourselves, deeper than we might have expected or chosen to go.

The poetry of R. S. Thomas takes us deep into those places Morrison identifies. His stark, questing poems force us to confront uneasy themes such as the meaning of existence in a world where God remains obstinately hidden from view. Thomas' God is a "great absence" rather than a presence; we follow His "echoes" and "footprints" rather than have any direct contact.

Via Negativa

Why no! I never thought other than
That God is that great absence
In our lives, the empty silence
Within, the place where we go
Seeking, not in hope to
Arrive or find. He keeps the interstices
In our knowledge, the darkness
Between stars. His are the echoes
We follow, the footprints he has just
Left. We put our hands in
His side hoping to find
It warm. We look at people
And places as though he had looked
At them, too; but miss the reflection.

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