Holy Week: ‘Via Negativa’

Via Negativa
by R. S. THOMAS

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.

David Anderson’s ‘The Things of This World’

anderson_200_01Friend and fellow poet David E. Anderson has just posted an excellent review essay The Things of This World.

David, who is senior editor at Religion News Service, touches on several books examining the religious sensibilities of famous poets, including Naming Grace by Mary Catherine Hilkert; The World’s Hieroglyphic Beauty by Peter Stitt; The New Oxford Book of Christian Verse edited by Donald Davie; and Cheryl Walker’s God and Elizabeth Bishop.

He also looks at the wonderful Welsh poet R.S. Thomas who died in 2000. Here’s the opening to David’s essay:

For many poets, believers and nonbelievers alike, it is possible to talk about the religious imagination they bring to apprehending reality and describing the world.

Theologically, Christianity provides a language—and some doctrinal and historical metaphors or benchmarks—for two such imaginations: the sacramental and the dialectical. The first is broadly linked to Catholic ways of seeing and understanding God and the world, and the second, equally broadly and generally, to a Protestant sensibility.