POETRY: The Transformation—For The Sacred Heart by Thomas Merton

The Transformation—For The Sacred Heart by Thomas Merton

Heart, in the ardor of Whose holy day
The June is blazing on our world of fruit and wheat,
Smile on our lives, and sanctify them with a new love’s vintage
And with Your fires vivify our veins.

Lo, the whole humble earth
Bows and is broken with Your loads of bounty, and the trees
Fail and give way as we besiege them with a score of ladders.
We have no time to turn and hear the tiger-lilies all along the field,
Whose outcry warns the world of Love’s immense invasion
Coming to crowd our continent with full-armed shocks.
And look! Those regiments are all around us!
How shall we flee you? You will ‘siege us in our bursting barns
And force us to a parley in our vines and garden.

Lord, in this splendid season
When all the things that grow extend their arms and show the world Your love,

Shall the free wills of men alone
Bide in their January ice
And keep the stubborn winter of their fruitlessness?

Why are we all afraid of love?
Why should we, who are far greater than the grain
Fear to fall in the ground and die?
Have You not planned for minds and wills
Their own more subtle biochemistry?

This is the end of my old ways, dear Christ!
Now I will hear Your voice at last
And leave the frosts (that is: the fears) of my December.
And though You kill me, (as You must) more, more I’ll trust in you.
For though the darkness and the furious waters of that planting
Seep down and eat my life away
Yet my dark night both eats and feeds me,
‘Til I begin to know what new life, green life springs within my bones.

Heart, in the long, daily buryings of anguish and of prayer,
Or when I seem to die on the dry burning stone, among the thorns,
It is no longer I, but You Who work and grow:
It is your life, not mine that makes these new green blades
In the transforming of my soul.
Oh, long before the June, if I but could
I would begin to count my loads of grain,
Hailing the hundreds of the heaven-harvests.

But though they are not yet for man’s accounting,
Still in the planted earth I’ll hold these hills of gold
Between the blade and the green ear.

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