I was bound to return to this subject sooner or later if only to mention one of my favourite poems. “The View from The Window” by R. S. Thomas. We sometimes hear friends complain, “I had to do  Shakespeare/[insert name of writer or poet here] at school and that just ruined it for me, I’m afraid.” Well, in this instance, here is a poem from a poet whom “we did at school” which actually caught my teenage imagination and has stayed with me ever since.

In part it is the sparing use of language which yet manages to conjure up a picture in the mind’s eye. OK, so much of what we get out of a poem is what we put into it – either through conscious effort in reading it or through memories, emotions, recollections and knowledge mulling around in our subconscious. This poem reflects something of the author’s Christian faith and the landscape of the parish in which he served. However, it also contains, for me at least, a revolutionary idea that a thing may be constantly changing but at the same time be finished, complete. The change we see outside this window is not because improvement is needed – it does not need to be made better – but because, change, movement (“the dynamic”) is a characteristic of what it is. If the view did not change it would be still, i.e. lifeless. In a way this is a truth that is obvious once you get it and yet profound – do we not instinctively resist change? Yet change is all around us – in nature, in society, in politics, in our bodies growing up/old and so on. We might sometimes complain that change seems to be for change’s sake, but sometimes change happens because it is the nature of the beast, so to speak. Change works on different time scales from the ephemeral world of fashion at one end to the epochal pace of geology at the other. It takes a certain amount of discernment to know which changes to let go and which ones we should try to shape. Mostly we can’t stop change but we can sometimes change change so to speak.

I wonder how many days of gazing out at the clouds and busy skies of Wales if took for Revd R. S. Thomas reach his conclusions about the created world? And, as is sometimes the way when writing poetry, perhaps he did not realise it until after he had written his poem.

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