Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Card

This poem gave me chills when I read it excerpted at Karen Edmisten's blog.

When the white stars talk together like sisters
And when the winter hills
Raise their grand semblance in the freezing night,
Somewhere one window
Bleeds like the brown eye of an open force.
Hills, stars,
White stars that stand above the eastern stable.
Look down and offer Him.
The dim adoring light of your belief.
Whose small Heart bleeds with infinite fire.
Shall not this Child
(When we shall hear the bells of His amazing voice)
Conquer the winter of our hateful century?
And when His Lady Mother leans upon the crib,
Lo, with what rapiers
Those two loves fence and flame their brillancy!
Here in this straw lie planned the fires
That will melt all our sufferings:
He is our Lamb, our holocaust!
And one by one the shepherds, with their snowy feet,
Stamp and shake out their hats upon the stable dirt,
And one by one kneel down to look upon their Life.

-- Thomas Merton (1947)

9 comments:

Rodak said...

Merton is the Man!

Pentimento said...

ANd Milósz no less.

Karen E. said...

It's stunning, isn't it?

Pentimento said...

Yes, stunning and beautiful.

Rodak said...

In reading the correspondence of Merton and Milosz, I was turned on to the poet, Robert Lax. Merton recommended him to Milosz as a poet he might like. I have begun reading some Lax in an anthology of his writers that I borrowed from the library. Lax did not self-promote and lived as a hermit in Europe (mostly Greece) for many years before coming back to the States as an old man. He was a Columbia University with Kerouac, Ginsberg, Berryman et al. He studied under Mark Van Doren like the rest of them. He was a Jew who converted to Catholicism. Some who knew him considered him to be saintly. His stuff is hard to find, but worth looking into.

Pentimento said...

I've never heard of him, but he sounds like my kind of guy. Thanks for the recommendation, Rodak.

Rodak said...

I had never heard of him either. He's in none of the anthologies, despite the fact that he's routinely praised by famous men and his poem "Circus in the Sun" was reviewed in the New York Times as among the greatest of the century. His obscurity is a testament to the importance of self-promotion if one wants to have a "name." He didn't care. I like that.

Rodak said...

Correction: the correct name of Lax's masterpiece is "Circus OF the Sun".

lissla lissar said...

Huh. I remember reading about him in The Seven Storey Mountain. I'll have to look him up. Thanks, Rodak.