‘God’s fool, God’s jester’, by R.S. Thomas

God’s fool, God’s jester
capering at his right hand
in torment, proving the fallacy
of the impassible, reminding
him of omnipotence’s limits.

I have seen the figure
on our human tree, burned
into it by thought’s lightning
and it writhed as I looked.

A god has no alternative
but himself. With what crown
plurality but with thorns?
Whose is the mirthless laughter
at the beloved irony
at his side? The universe over,
omniscience warns, the crosses
are being erected from such
material as is available
to remorse. What are the stars
but time’s fires going out
before ever the crucified
can be taken down?
there is only this one option
before me. Remembering,
as one goes out into space,
on the way to the sun,
how dark it will grow,
I stare up into the darkness
of his countenance, knowing it
a reflection of the three days and nights
at the back of love’s looking –
glass even a god must spend.

– R.S. Thomas, Counterpoint (Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1990), 36–7.

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