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Issue 31

Book Review – by D L

Etched by silence:   A pilgrimage through the poetry of R.S.Thomas “ , compiled by Jim Cotter 

 This slim book contains a vast treasure, a selection of 52 poems by R.S.Thomas, poet and priest of Aberdaron from 1967 until 1978. Jim Cotter, compiler of this book, was also priest at the Church of St. Hywyn at Aberdaron from 2008 until his retirement. He adds his own reflection to each of R.S.Thomas's poems. Also giving a note about the location in the landscape where the poem was written.                                                                             Church of St. Hywyn, Aberdaron

The Church of St.Hywyn is placed on the beach itself. The wonderful, peaceful atmosphere of the place is profoundly moving, as I discovered when visiting for the first time in the 1990s. From the hilltop overlooking the village R.S.Thomas would see Bardsey Island, “the island of saints”, every day of the year, in all weathers and all seasons. 

 When I lived in mid Wales I would see, on a clear night, the lighthouse on the tip of Bardsey Island across the water of Cardigan Bay and the Irish Sea. I was drawn to make my pilgrimage to Aberdaron. 

       “But the silence in the mind

        is when we live best, within                       

        listening distance of the silence

        we call God”

                                                                                       Bardsey Island, Island of the Saints

In addition, following the poems are some thirty pages of questions from the Gospels; a selection that may be worth pondering on our pilgrimage. 

Etched by Silence is published by Canterbury Press, 2013 and is available at some Christian bookshops, price £12.99