LOOK AT WHAT MERTON ONCE WROTE---absolutely eerie!


#1

Figures of New York
By Thomas Merton
New Directions: Norfolk, Connecticut, 1947

*Thomas Merton, OCSO
*

VI: In the Ruins of New York

Oh how quiet it is after the black night
When flames out of the clouds burned down your cariated teeth,
And when those lightnings,
Lancing the black boils of Harlem and the Bronx,
Spilled the remaining prisoners,
(The ten and twenties of the living)
Into the trees of Jersey,
To the green farms, to find their liberty.

How are they down, how have they fallen down
Those great strong towers of ice and steel.
And melted by what terror and what miracle?
What fires and lights tore down,
With the white anger of their sudden accusation,
Those towers of silver and of steel?

…The ashes of the leveled towers still curl with tufts of smoke
Veiling your obsequies in their incinerating haze
They write, in embers, this your epitaph:

”This was a city
That dressed herself in paper money.
She lived four hundred years
With nickels running in her veins.
She loved the waters of the seven purple seas,
And burned on her own green harbor
Higher and whiter than ever any Tyre.
She was as callous as a taxi;
Her high-heeled eyes were sometimes blue as gin,
And she nailed them, all the days of her life,
Through the hearts of her six million poor.
Now she has died in the terrors of a sudden contemplation
Drowned in the waters of her own, her poisoned well.”

spiritdaily.com/merton.htm


#2

I couldn’t agree more, Shoshana. In fact, I’m glad this has come up as a posting. Having heard lots of references to him as being a truly spiritual man of the 20th century, I finally got around to reading his book ‘The Seven Story Mountain’. This is an autobiography of his life, leading up to and including his early days in the monastery. Initially in the book, I was able to really enjoy his intellectual dialogues with himself and others in his attempt to understand who God was and who he was in relation to God. His life was full of travel and after having entered the monastery, wanted to continue to travel abroad, much to the dislike of his seniors (I later found out that he insisted on going abroad against their wishes and threatened to leave the monastery if not allowed. His popularity was quite high at the time and the monastery didn’t want to lose him, so gave him a very long rope, so to speak!). From what I can gather, he encountered eastern spiritualism and did a lot of work to unite(?) Christianity with eastern thought. There is much debate on this topic still today because unfortunately, many people adhere to the notion that all religions essentially share the same true God. As I got to about two thirds of the way through his book, the mood changed significantly, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what had changed. It then dawned on me that the innocence of his searching had changed into being about him first, then God, if that makes any sense?:whacky: I lost interest in the rest of the book. I did read somewhere that he died from a very unfortunate mishap whilst in the East - he was taking a shower, touched the shower nozzle and was electrocuted. Apparently it was said by his fellow travelling companion at the time, that Merton had mentioned a week or two earlier that he was going to die soon. Am I right in assuming you are referring to the tragedy of the twin tower attack in this poem? Obviously the man did have certain gifts bestowed upon him but it only leaves me with the impression that something more sinister is at play here. As for the topic of east meets west and the work he did here, I once again am left wondering if people really understand the nature of what this is about or simply accept it as universal love and brotherhood of man (which is not only what the message of the gospel is about, or the theology revealed therein). I have only just seen recently as a few weeks ago, the introduction of a buddhist statue into the sanctuary of a catholic church by a priest, which was then taken by one of the parishioners and smashed outside. This is a very liberal church that does a lot of good in the community but is seriously at risk of being cut off from the Vatican. Is this what it all leads to?


#3

Hi Lily,

Yes, I am referring to his prophetic voice on the Twin Towers.

I, too, used to read his books, 7-story mountain, etc. i also lost interest…maybe there was a rip that happened in his life that caused us to put the books down. I am afraid of this east-west thingie unless it is directed by one that is greatly grounded in mystical theology like our last two Popes.

There is an altar in Assissi for the Buddha, a muslim altar also and in the next cublice there is a jewish altar. So, I am dioriented by this. I was in Assissi in 2001 and never saw that there…

We must pray…one way or another, the poem on the twin towers gives one shivers…


#4

I did check Truth or Fiction and searched on hoax and not finding this… I remember the one they did have out right after 2001. Is there anything showing the books this came from online? Some books are online in their entirety. :slight_smile: It would be cool to have that info up front to show it is legit to any reader. Since I didn’t find it the way I was searching I assume it to be correct at this point but yeah, I always like to double check. I used to do tech support and customer’s would ask me about things they received in email so I got in the habit of looking up everything I received. :slight_smile: I do see the link you cite is from a Catholic site so I’m assuming they’ve already researched this and can verify it’s authenticity.


#5

http://www.wdtprs.com/images/BLOG/09_11_2001_towers.jpgOh how quiet it is after the black night
When flames out of the clouds burned down your cariated teeth,
And when those lightnings,
Lancing the black boils of Harlem and the Bronx,
Spilled the remaining prisoners,
(The tens and twenties of the living)
Into the trees of Jersey,
To the green farms, to find their liberty.
How are they down, how have they fallen down
Those great strong towers of ice and steel,
And melted by what terror and what miracle?
What fires and lights tore down,
With the white anger of their sudden accusation,
Those towers of silver and of steel?
From Figures For An Apocalypse, VI – In the Ruins of New York (1947) by Thomas Merton

Full entry…


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#6

:blessyou:

:hug1: What a relief to know there are others out there who feel the same way!! One has to be so discerning in these matters, even if it is thinly disguised as Christianity! I have nothing but respect for these last two Popes as well. It is very difficult to wade through a true understanding of Eastern thinking in relation to Christian thought. One place I found that explained a lot of it quite clearly was in the Vatican pages on the net. Not many people I found could help me with this topic and I had to resort to a lot of soul searching and prayer to finally find the Truth in this matter, and the only truth is Jesus Christ (for He says ‘I am the only way to the Father, no-one may come to Him except through Me’).:bible1: Thanks Shoshona. As for those altars in Assisi, I’m not familiar enough with that to comment.


#7

The book is called ‘In the Dark before Dawn’…

ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51AYKFNXBFL.SL500_BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_OU01_AA240_SH20.jpg

In The Dark Before Dawn: New Selected Poems of Thomas Merton (Paperback)

by Thomas Merton (Author), Lynn R. Szabo (Editor, Introduction), Kathleen Norris (Foreword) “In the unreason of a rainy midnight France blooms along the windows Of my sleepy bathysphere, And runs to seed in a luxuriance of curious…” (more)
**Key Phrases: **cancer blues, dark before dawn, new bomb, Chuang Tzu, Hagia Sophia, New York (more…)
amazon.com/Dark-Before-Dawn-Selected-Thomas/dp/0811216136


#8

I’m one still coming out of a fog as far as being Catholic though it’s been a year… yet it seems like just a few days. I do want to do RCIA some day, I think I need it. Was gone just about 20 yrs, can you believe that? And all the dumb things I did.

Cool!! Thanks! :slight_smile:


#9

Love Merton, thanks for posting…


#10

Though the poem’s foreshadowing of the events of September 11 may be eerie, I do not think there is anything sinister about it. It seems to be a coincidence of poetic device: Imagine you are a person living in New York in the 40s and you want to write a poem with an apocalyptic setting. All around you are these skyscrapers which are continually being built to higher heights and which are changing the city’s landscape. What would you include in your description of the city?

Merton was just using the poetic imagery that anyone would of used.


#11

this kind of projection is why nostradamus has such an undeserved reputation.

“This was a city
That dressed herself in paper money.
She lived four hundred years
With nickels running in her veins.

She was as callous as a taxi;
Her high-heeled eyes were sometimes blue as gin,
And she nailed them, all the days of her life,
Through the hearts of her six million poor.”

Merton is condemning (as he often does) the crass materialism of the day and the plight of the poor. this has nothing to do with 9/11 issues. short of Cloverfield or Godzilla, how many ways are there of imagining the mechanics of Righteously Smiting a built up city? of course the sky scrapers are going to be pulled down in flames. Rome did the equivalent thing to Carthage.

besides, if he’s writing in 1947, the images of cities in flames would be a recent and familiar one.


#12

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