The Priest

The Priest


The priest picks his way

Through the parish. Eyes watch him

From windows, from the farms;

Hearts wanting him to come near.

The flesh rejects him.


Women, pouring from the black kettle,

Stir up the whirling tea-grounds

Of their thoughts; offer him a dark

Filling in their smiling sandwich.


Priests have a long way to go.

The people wait for them to come

To them over the broken glass

Of their vows, making them pay

With their sweat’s coinage for their correction.


He goes up a green lane

Through growing birches; lambs cushion

His vision. He comes slowly down

In the dark, feeling the cross warp

In his hands; hanging on it his thought’s icicles.


‘Crippled soul’ do you say? looking at him

From the mind’s height; ‘limping through life

On his prayers. There are other people

In the world, sitting at table

Contented, though the broken body

And the shed blood are not on the menu.’


‘Let it be so,’ I say. ‘Amen and amen.’

RS Thomas

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