POETRY: Death, by Thomas Merton

thomas merton

In honor of the death of Thomas Merton.

Where are the merchants and the money-lenders
Whose love sang in the wires between the seaports and the
inland granaries?

Is the old trader any safer than the sailor sent to drown
Crossing the world’s end in a wooden schooner?
Where are the generals who sacked the sunny cities
And burned the cattle and the grain?
Or is the politician any safer in his offices
Than a soldier shot in the eye?

Take time to tremble lest you come without reflection
To feel the furious mercies of my friendship,
(Says death) because I come as quick as intuition.

Cliffs of your hangovers were never half so dizzy as my
infinite abyss:
Flesh cannot wrestle with the waters that ire in the earth,
Nor spirit rest in icy clay!

More than the momentary night of faith, to the lost dead,
Shall be their never-ending midnight:

Yet all my power is conquered by a child’s “Hail Mary”
And all my night forever lightened by one waxen candle!

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