A Sacrifice of Language?

  • D. Z. Phillips


In the course of this essay, we have been introduced to the religious conception of a Deus absconditus. As we saw, from being introduced to the notion in a few poems in Song at the Year’s Turning, Poetry for Supper and Pietà, it reaches its maturity in a far greater number of poems in H’m, Laboratories of the Spirit and Frequencies. We have also witnessed in these, and other volumes, powerful expressions of protesting questions to religious faith. Many of these questions concern a God who is contingently hidden from us. He has plans and designs, which, while on earth, we cannot understand. They are hidden from us. The questions and difficulties which can be brought to bear on such a conception of God are, it seems to me, unanswerable. Many of R. S. Thomas’s poems give powerful expression to these questions and difficulties. The God who is a Deus absconditus is not contingently hidden from us. Inscrutableness is part of our conception of God. The grace of God is internally related to our realisation of the radical contingency of human life.


Religious Faith Religious Perspective Religious Conception Powerful Expression Religious Sense 
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  1. 3.
    R. S. Thomas, ‘A Frame for Poetry’, Times Literary Supplement, 3 Mar 1966, p. 169.Google Scholar

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© D. Z. Phillips 1986

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  • D. Z. Phillips

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