Tuesday 18 December 2018

Thomas's Migrants

The migrant redwings are here again, in large numbers, busily stripping the holly bushes of berries.
In this sonnet, from the late collection Mass for Hard Times, R.S. Thomas likens us humans to migrant birds, flying into 'that great void', drawn magnetically towards the 'bleak north' of the ever withdrawing God, even if we are never to arrive 'in the climate of our conception'...


He is that great void
we must enter, calling
to one another on our way
in the direction from which
he blows. What matter
if we should never arrive
to breed or to winter
in the climate of our conception?

Enough we have been given wings
and a needle in the mind
to respond to his bleak north.
There are times even at the Pole
where he, too, pauses in his withdrawal,
so that it is light there all night long.


  1. There was a lovely Tweet of the Day a couple of days ago by Monty Don regarding the arrival of those other thrushes, the Fieldfares. I heard a rare (in this city) and exquisite Song Thrush singing in an ash tree too recently.

  2. I missed Monty's fieldfare, but I've heard a few this winter. Yet to see one properly though. No winter song thrush for me, but the robins are in terrific voice round here – and the sparrows never stop.

  3. Haven't you got anything a bit more light-hearted? Driven me into a depression at this cold, wet time of the year :-(