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.

7 thoughts on “Thomas’ “The Bright Field””

  1. Welcome back to Thomas, Loren! How I have enjoyed your nature photographs – but how I love Thomas and all he says. I think the pearl of great price in the poem is probably Thomas’s relationship with God, which was not always an easy one. I didn’t know this poem at all – I thought I knew them all.

  2. hey loren – with only a couple of days left in my summer holidays – i’m a teacher . . . thanks for this reminding poem. i love love love the details inside plants and living things and the skies especially. that’s where your photography has such resonance. by the way, the oregon photographs were absolutely gobsmackingly good!
    thanks . . . steven

  3. The miracle of the lit bush is God. Thomas is writing about faith and the promise of heaven. As I’m sure you know, the poem is an allusion to Jesus’s parable about heaven: a man finds a treasure buried in a field and he spends all he has to get it. You’re right that our time here is short, and we need to keep our eye on what’s important.

  4. Just wanted to say – what a beautiful web page! Wandering around here, I suddenly had this feeling of air and light and infinite space. Wonderful. Thanks for brightening my day.

    “The mind has to be empty to see clearly.” – J. Krishnamurti

  5. Great poem I agree. I have read many analyses of this poem and until this blog I’m amazed that nobody has picked up that it’s centred around two parables of Jesus. These being, the parable of the treasure in the field and the parable of the pearl.

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