Thomas’ “The Bright Field”

Although my favorite poem from the volumes The Way of It and Frequencies is a poem about God called “The White Tiger,” I thought it past time to focus on Thomas’ nature poems, though I suspect God is implied in those poems, too.

I’ll let you be the judge of that, though.


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 receeding 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.

Perhaps there’s merely something about old age that makes some of us finally stop “hurrying/on to a receeding future” and take the time to see what’s in front of us. Even though my summers off as a teacher gave me more time to enjoy nature than most people ever have, I’m sure even then I used to rush past such simple beauty . Now that I no longer have to work or have a future to worry about, I spend much more time looking at those small, bright fields.

I suppose you could tell that by the number of wildflowers, butterflies, and birds I’ve photographed since retiring. Amazingly, the closer I look the more miraculous that field seems to me.

It doesn’t hurt to read poems like this that remind me what’s important.

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