...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

September 07, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Merton

Today's poem is by a Trappist monk of the Strict Observance, the late Thomas Merton. My experience reading the poem mirrors my own flirtations with serenity a few years back. Every time i think i get it, it slips away. Ultimately, i just give up.

When in the soul of the serene disciple

When in the soul of the serene disciple
With no more Fathers to imitate
Poverty is a success,
It is a small thing to say the roof is gone:
He has not even a house.

Stars, as well as friends,
Are angry with the noble ruin.
Saints depart in several directions.

Be still:
There is no longer any need of comment.
It was a lucky wind
That blew away his halo with his cares,
A lucky sea that drowned his reputation.

Here you will find
Neither a proverb nor a memorandum.
There are no ways,
No methods to admire
Where poverty is no achievement.
His God lives in his emptiness like an affliction.

What choice remains?
Well, to be ordinary is not a choice:
It is the usual freedom
Of men without visions.

Posted by annika, Sep. 7, 2005 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry


Surely you jest.

Annie, ordinary, run of the mill? Serene?

You have chosen a path that does not lead to serenity. It is not in the law school playbook.

The only lawyer who I ever met who came close was Bishop Pike, and he was far from ordinary, but nearly serene.

Give it up, Annie; go for "fulfilled".

Posted by: shelly on Sep. 7, 2005

Merton's poetry is hard to come by. His collection, "Tears of the Blind Lions" has a moving poem about his brother's death in WWII.

Merton wrote some of my favorite lines...don't know if this is exactly right, but it went something like this:

"Do you have a guardian angel?"
"yes, thank you, I have one of everything,
Even thought the nights are never dangerous."

Posted by: dymphna on Sep. 14, 2005