“The Chapel”

A little aside from the main road,
becalmed in a last-century greyness,
there is the chapel, ugly, without the appeal
to the tourist to stop his car
and visit it. The traffic goes by,
and the river goes by, and quick shadows
of clouds, too, and the chapel settles
a little deeper into the grass.

But here once on an evening like this,
in the darkness that was about
his hearers, a preacher caught fire
and burned steadily before them
with a strange light, so that they saw
the splendour of the barren mountains
about them and sang their amens
fiercely, narrow but saved
in a way that men are not now.

R. S. Thomas

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4 Responses to “The Chapel”

  1. Basem says:

    What is the story of that chapel Father?


    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      I read on Twitter that the pic is the pic of a parish that Thomas served as pastor. As far as the “chapel” of the poem, I imagine that Thomas is thinking of any chapel, but perhaps especially of a Welsh congregation that experienced revival in the early 20th century. But that is pure guesswork on my part.


  2. Jonathan says:

    Perhaps interesting to note that in Wales a ” chapel” refers to a Nonconformist church, as opposed to the established Anglican Church that R. S. Thomas served.


  3. Mary Lanser says:

    I read it twice through before taking the next breath. It reminds me of Flannery O’Connor’s prose. Raw. Real. True. The ending of her short story called Redemption, maybe. At any rate it squeezed the breath in my chest. Thank you, Father.


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