“… See the high birds! … do they play in wheeling silences. Defining in the perfect sky the bounds of (here below) our solitude …”

merton sky bounds solitude

See the high birds! Is theirs the song
That dies among the wood-light
Wounding the listener with such bright arrows?
Or do they play in wheeling silences
Defining in the perfect sky
The bounds of (here below) our solitude,

Where spring has generated lights of green
To glow in clouds upon the sombre branches?
Ponds full of sky and stillnesses
What heavy summer songs still sleep
Under the tawny rushes at your brim?

merton spring sky clouds stillnesses

More than a season will be born here, nature,
In your world of gravid mirrors!
The quiet air awaits one note,
One light, one ray and it will be the angels’ spring:
One flash, one glance upon the shiny pond, and then
Asperges me! sweet wilderness, and lo! we are redeemed!

merton quiet air shiny pond

For, like a grain of fire
Smouldering in the heart of every living essence
God plants His undivided power —
Buries His thought too vast for worlds
In seed and root and blade and flower,

merton plants seed

Until, in the amazing light of April,
Surcharging the religious silence of the spring,
Creation finds the pressure of His everlasting secret
Too terrible to bear.

merton light spring

Then every way we look, lo! rocks and trees
Pastures and hills and streams and birds and firmament
And our own souls within us flash, and shower us with light,
While the wild countryside, unknown, unvisited of men,
Bears sheaves of clean, transforming fire.

pastures hills streams

And then, oh then the written image, schooled in sacrifice,
The deep united threeness printed in our being,
Shot by the brilliant syllable of such an intuition, turns within,
And plants that light far down into the heart of darkness and oblivion,
Dives after, and discovers flame.

merton flames

~ Thomas Merton

Stillness Speaks Teacher page for Thomas Merton will be coming soon.


Excerpt from Selected Poems of Thomas Merton, by Thomas Merton, found via Poetry Chaikhana.
Images (edited and logos added): Featured and 1) Tropical Sunset by deltaoff, 2) Spring landscape with Narew river and clouds on the blue sky by Utiwamoj, 3) Ginkaku-ji Temple in Kyoto by sepavone, 4) Young green sprout after fire by bozhdb, 5) Beautiful sunset in the spring in the mountains by Kotenko, 6) Clay Cliffs Scenic Reserve, New Zealand by muha04, 7) Flame by lilkar. All purchased from depositphotos, for use only on our website/social channels (these images are not permitted to be shared separate from this post).
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