But the silence in the mind

But the silence in the mind
is when we live best, within
listening distance of the silence
we call God. This is the deep
calling to deep of the psalm-
writer, the bottomless ocean
we launch the armada of
our thoughts on, never arriving.

It is a presence, then,
whose margins are our margins;
that calls us out over our
own fathoms. What to do
but draw a little nearer to
such ubiquity by remaining still?

 

by R.S. Thomas, from the collection Counterpoint, 1990

This widely known and loved poem is worth sharing here. I have reproduced it in its correct form (you can find it widespread on the web with an error. There are two not three sentences in the opening stanza; the second sentence has the sense “the bottomless ocean on which we launch our thoughts”.)

There is an unusually large amount captured in this short poem. The opening phrase is at once true, gentle, consoling, thoughtful, opening and liberating. Almost as much could be said of the last sentence. There is both faith and a sense of hesitation in the poem, the sense of unostentatious willingness to look, not being quite sure what one will find. Indeed one never fully arrives at something clearly found, and yet in the experience, or perhaps the attitude, described here there is a strange but genuine sense of that which is companionable.  It is a companionship with other people, brought about through a gathering around we struggle to say what. And this is a companionship that can even be shared by a person who is, in a literal and physical sense, alone.

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