‘Often I try
To analyze the quality
Of its silences. Is this where God hides
From my searching? I have stopped to listen,
After the few people have gone,
To the air recomposing itself
R. S. Thomas (1966)
R. S. Thomas (1913–2000) was one of the finest poets of the last century. He was also an Anglican priest, serving communities in mid and north Wales between 1936 and his retirement in 1978. In combining the vocations of poetry and ministry, Thomas is part of ancient tradition, old as the church in England as the legacy of Anglo-Saxon poetry shows. Rowan Williams, Welshman, retired archbishop and poet is part of its living continuity. Thomas’s poetry is a rich body of work, approachable yet tough, and well worth getting to know. The opening lines of ‘In Church’ give a glimpse of how a church might feel to the priest left alone after the congregation has gone home.