Pilgrimage to Bardsey Island

28 Apr 2022 | Christ-likeness | 0 comments

There is an island there is no going

to but in a small boat the way

the saints went, travelling the gallery

of the frightened faces of

the long drowned, munching the gravel

of its beaches. So I have gone

up the salt lane to the building

with the stone altar and the candles

gone out, and kneeled and lifted

my eyes to the furious gargoyle

of the owl that is like a god

gone small and resentful. There

is no body in the stained window of the sky now.

Am I too late?

Were they too late also, those

first pilgrims? He is such a fast

God, always before us and

leaving as we arrive.


There are those here

not given to prayer, whose office

is the blank sea that they say daily.

What they listen to is not

hymns but the slow chemistry of the soil

that turns saints’ bones to dust.


R.S. Thomas (1913-2000).




Notes from the Compiler


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