The Coming, by R.S. Thomas (Advent 2020, Week 1)

Greetings, friends!

We take a hiatus from Raw Reflections: Rereading The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings as I will now be embarking on a brief four-part poetry series celebrating Advent and also because I have yet to finish reading The Return of the King!  We will commence Raw Reflections after Christmas.

Advent is a season of waiting, of joyful, expectant anticipation.  During this time, we pause to reflect on the miracle of the Incarnation.  Many poets have written on the subject of Advent, awaiting the Coming, and the Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace we have in Christ.  It seems appropriate to share some of these over the four weeks of Advent.  For the most part, I shall allow these poems to speak for themselves, as I agree with J.R.R. Tolkien that introductions should come after tales and be more accurately called “postlections.”1  I will, however, often include a brief author biography following the poem.  With that in mind, I shall attempt to restrain myself from any further comment on this beautiful poem.

The other parts in this series can be found via the links below.

Week 2: “The world is stopp’d,” by Nicole K.
Week 3: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, translated by John M. Neale & Henry S. Coffin
Week 4: “What the Bird Said Early in the Year,” by C.S. Lewis

“Reader, meet ‘The Coming.’”2

The Coming
R.S. Thomas

And God held in his hand
A small globe.  Look he said.
The son looked.  Far off,
As through water, he saw
A scorched land of fierce
Colour.  The light burned
There; crusted buildings
Cast their shadows:  a bright
Serpent, a river
Uncoiled itself, radiant
With slime.
                On a bare
Hill a bare tree saddened
The sky.  Many People
Held out their thin arms
To it, as though waiting
For a vanished April
To return to its crossed
Boughs.  The son watched
Them.  Let me go there, he said.

Ronald Stuart Thomas was a Welshman and Anglican priest, born in the early 20th century.  He was the son of a sea captain and due to his family’s poverty, received little education until later in life.  Wales and its people dominated Thomas’s poetry, but he was also greatly influenced by his Christian beliefs.  You can read more about R.S. Thomas here.

Notes:

1J.R.R. Tolkien, draft introduction to George MacDonald’s The Golden Key, found in Smith of Wooton Major “Extended Edition” edited by Verlyn Flieger

2Ibid.

2 thoughts on “The Coming, by R.S. Thomas (Advent 2020, Week 1)

  1. Nicole, what a lovely way to begin Advent! I tend to think that poetry is the best way to begin anything, and this poem was beautiful. I had never read it before (though I have read some lovely Advent and Christmas poems by Christina Rossetti). Thank you for introducing me to it! That last line is so powerful in its simplicity: “Let me go there, he said.”

    Like

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