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
Seen at Auschwitz ~
Thomas was seen at Auschwitz
Standing by guiltily
As brides were being led to altars
Where nuptials were taking place
And he, on being left outside the flow,
Stood clutching the wire
Looking at the snow on which
The brides' barefeet had trodden,
Determined to follow.
Now he was seeing those feet in snow
On a high mountain far off
And the brides coming to take him
To his chamber of fire
From which they would lead him
Into the blazing splendor
Of the wedding with the Bridegroom
To be the Brother Betrothed—
For he had come to know
The God of the Burnt Brides.