Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a contemplative monk who spent 27 years inside the walls of a Trappist monastery in Kentucky. Only in his last year was he permitted to travel at any length. Even though he was never at Auschwitz this poetry places him there so as to let a generous sensitivity and tenacious faith like his respond to this horrendous calamity. Merton stands for all those who, in the light of Auschwitz, ask the question: where was God, and in so asking expose their belief to severe trial. Merton's struggle with this question was lived out elsewhere. Only the location has been shifted in the poetry that follows.
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Canticle of Daniel ~
In half delirium he surveyed the masses
Moving in rows in gray darkness,
Seeing them as countless cantors
Or monks with tonsured heads lowered,
Singing in triumph Daniel's Canticle:
Praised be Thou, Lord, God of our Fathers.
They were singing with great ardor
So that Thomas knew it to mean
That this horde had emerged already,
Whole and unscathed,
From that cauldron's fire
Toward which it was headed.