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Identity, environment, and deity

Controversial poet Ronald Stuart Thomas was considered to be one of the leading writers of the twentieth century. This book, in three parts, interprets the development of a major theme over Thomas's twenty-seven volumes, probing particular themes and poems with a meticulous insight. The themes of identity, environment, and deity treated reflect the major preoccupations of his life and work. The book presents a comprehensive examination of these major themes as they occur across Thomas's substantial oeuvre, while providing an expanded frame within which the considerable complexity of Thomas's work can be explored. It suggests that such poetic explorations and revelations of identity provide the prima materia of the poetry and form an underlying foundation to Thomas's poetry viewed as a single body of work. Thomas's treatment of the natural world, in particular the theology of nature mysticism vital to much of his work, is then discussed. The book also looks closely at Thomas's increasing preoccupation with science. It explores his philosophical concern with a scientific register for poetry, his own experimentation with that register, his subtle ambivalence towards applied technology, his ongoing critique of 'the machine', and his view of modern physics. Finally, examining Thomas's 'religious poetry', the book re-focuses on the exact nature of his poetic approach to a 'theology of experience' as reflected in his 'mythic' and 'via negativa' modes. It highlights Thomas's 'reconfiguring' of theology, that is, his insistence on the central validity and importance of individual spiritual experience, both as absence and as presence.

Open Access (free)
Christopher Morgan

chapter6 28/1/05 1:33 pm Page 147 6 Theologies and beyond Introduction This chapter begins with an examination of the philosophical grounding for R. S. Thomas’s ‘religious poetry’ as found in his 1966 article ‘A Frame for Poetry’ and in his 1963 ‘Introduction’ to The Penguin Book of Religious Verse. It then examines Thomas’s ‘mythic’ poems by focusing on the 1972 collection H’m. Chapter 7 examines Thomas’s ‘via negativa’ and ‘via affirmativa’ poems by concentrating on the collections Frequencies (1978) and Destinations (1985), in which these ‘types’ are most

in R. S. Thomas
Open Access (free)
Christopher Morgan

Thomas’s philosophical grounding and poetic experimentation. Finally, Chapters 6 and 7 examine Thomas’s ‘religious poetry’. I will look not only at the more exact nature of his re-configuring of Christian theology through a close consideration of his collections H’m (1972), Frequencies (1978), and Destinations (1985) but equally at his radical expansion of the category ‘religious poetry’, and at what he sees as the function of that poetry. My aim here is to expand discussion of Thomas by re-focusing more sharply on the exact nature of his poetic approach to a ‘theology

in R. S. Thomas
Open Access (free)
Christopher Morgan

’s work, and by suggesting that they constitute, by their increasing frequency, the most recent ‘phase’ in the poet’s spiritual journey (1996: 186). At the same time that Thomas expands the category of ‘religious poetry’ to include spiritual doubt and the experience of absence, he also, albeit more quietly perhaps, makes his returns in the religious poems to a very traditional and, in many ways, Celtic spirituality of affirmation and presence. Esther De Waal, in her book Celtic Light: A Tradition Rediscovered (1997), underscores what she sees as a major characteristic

in R. S. Thomas
Simha Goldin

educated its children in light of the Jewish response of 1096, left behind a limited number of sources, in prose and piyyut (religious poetry), revealing their attitude to the subject of forced conversion.4 The authors of these sources describe the Gentiles—the burghers and the Crusaders—at great length, stressing that the goal of the Christians was first and foremost to convert the Jews to Christianity. Indeed, it was the Jews’ description of the Crusaders’ unrelenting cruelty towards them, the role played by the burghers, their former neighbors, and the bishops, who in

in Apostasy and Jewish identity in High Middle Ages Northern Europe
Christopher Morgan

chapter2 28/1/05 1:25 pm Page 43 ‘No-one with a crown of light’ 7 8 9 10 43 Experimenting with an Amen (1986) to the prose passage in sequence 54 of the 1988 The Echoes Return Slow (108). See also the poems beginning ‘I waited upon’ and ‘It is one of those faces’, from the 1990 collection Counterpoint (45–6). See Chapter 7 for a discussion of the via negativa in Thomas’s religious poetry. See the poems ‘Aside’ and ‘Stations’ in the collection Mass for Hard Times (1992) as further examples of this. Thomas writes in these poems of ‘a turning aside, / a bending

in R. S. Thomas
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Clergy, orality and print in the Scottish Gaelic world
Donald Meek

; but it is legitimate to wonder whether it may have been at least a first draft of an ambitious project to capture some of the finest verse products of the medieval Gaelic world, from western Scotland to western Ireland. Some of the oldest poems in the book can be dated to the thirteenth 86 The pulpit and the pen and early fourteenth centuries, while the latest were composed close to the time of compilation of the book itself. The range of verse – formal bardic verse to patrons of the poets, ballads about the heroes of the Fianna, religious poetry of very high

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