The Bright Field, by R.S. Thomas

I heard this recording of R.S. Thomas reading one of his most famous poems on Private Passions on BBC Radio 3 this Sunday. It was only later that I realised that although I’ve posted quite a few poems by R.S. Thomas over the years, I’ve never posted this one so I’m correcting that omission now. The poem is called The Bright Field:

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

Here is R.S. Thomas himself reading it. The comments made about this reading on the radio programme weren’t entirely complimentary, but I rather like it. Notice, however, that in the spoken version he adds a `the’ between `had’ and `treasure’, which isn’t there in my printed copy of the poem.

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2 Responses to “The Bright Field, by R.S. Thomas”

  1. michaelcymru Says:

    Thank you for this post. If anyone reading this likes RS Thomas then you might be interested in facebook.com/groups/22240849843 and/or twitter @RSThomaspoet – share RS Thomas poems, quotes, events, info, Q&A etc…

  2. Patrick Brompton Says:

    John Hardy composed an extremely effective setting of this wonderful poem as part of his ‘Not Darkness but Twilight’ choral cycle. It was a BBC commission. I am not sure if it has been performed since its 2004 premiere. It would be good to hear it again.

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