POETRY: Song—Contemplation by Thomas Merton

Song—Contemplation by Thomas Merton

O land alive with miracles!
O clad in streams,
Countering the silver summer’s pleasant arrows
And beating them with the kind armor
Of your enkindled water-vesture,

Lift your blue trees into the early sun!

O country wild with talent
Is there an hour in you that does not rouse our mind with songs?

The boughs that bend in the weak wind
Open us momentary windows, here and there,
Into those deep and purple galleries,
Disclosing us the birds your genius;

And yet the earth is loud
With more than this their timid vaudeville.

O brilliant wood!
Yours is the voice of a new world;
And all the hills burn with such blinding art

That Christ and angels walk among us, everywhere.
These are their ways, their fiery footsteps,
That flash and vanish, smile and pass;
—By those bright passengers our groves are all inspired.
Lo, we have seen you, we have seized you, wonder,
Caught you, half held you in the larch and lighted birch:
But in that capture you have sailed us half-mile-high into the air
To taste the silences of the inimitable hawk:

Nor do we swing upon the wind
To scan the flattened barns as brown as blood
Growing into the surface of the wounded earth,
Or learn the white roads, livid as a whipcut scar.
For suddenly we have forgotten your geography,
Old nature, and your map of prey,
And know no more the low world scourged with travelling.

The genuine steps, the obvious degrees
The measured cart-ways and the fields we trod all day
And the tunes of the clattering shops,
Even the songs that crowned the highest hill
Find us no longer beggars for their petty coin.

We’ve left the stations of the mendicants
And the ways of the workaday saints.

But in the dazzled, high and unelectric air
Seized in the talons of the terrible Dove,
The huge, unwounding Spirit,
We suddenly escape the drag of earth
Fly from the dizzy paw of gravity
And swimming in the wind that lies beyond the track
Of thought and genius and of desire,

Trample the white, appalling stratosphere.

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