May 25, 2005

In Silence

Be still.
Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
to speak your

to the living walls.

Who are you?
are you? Whose
silence are you?

Who (be quiet)
are you (as these stones
are quiet). Do not
think of what you are
still less of
what you may one day be.

be what you are (but who?)
be the unthinkable one
you do not know.

O be still, while
you are still alive,
and all things live around you

speaking (I do not hear)
to your own being,
speaking by the unknown
that is in you and in themselves.

“I will try, like them
to be my own silence:
and this is difficult. The whole
world is secretly on fire. The stones
burn, even the stones they burn me.
How can a man be still or
listen to all things burning?
How can he dare to sit with them
when all their silence is on fire?”

Thomas Merton


This poem, including the silent spaces
between the words, changed my life.

I feel tremendous gratitude to Thomas Merton.


isaiah said...

Such grace...such grace in these words. Mind if I post this on my site? Thanks M....I'm floating right silence.

tamingthemind said...

Beautiful poem.

It reminds me of a Pablo Neruda poem.

Thank you for sharing.

Loren said...

This poem sent me scurrying to my site to see if this was one of Merton's poems I’d chosen as a favorite, but unfortunately it wasn't.

Hopefully it just wasn’t in the collection I read, because I'd hate to think that I could have overlooked a poem this good.

Anonymous said...

Hola! Este poema traducido por Ernesto Cardenal al castellano, cambió mi vida en el año 1994! Pero perdí mi libro de poemas de Thomas Merton y lo busqué a tientas en inglés, con algunas *palabras clave* y gracias a vos lo encontré. Meredith, gracias! Cecilia. mi e-mail es: de Buenos Aires, Argentina. Thanks! Y need de tittle and editor of the book in wich you find this poem. Please!

jon davis said...

there was a time after i got out of the us army that i couldnt stand to be in silence but now after my spiritual conversion i long for it everyday. turning the world off for an hour everday can change how you look at things.

kbris said...

The noise in our lives masks the fear of confronting our true selves and changes how we perceive reality. It distracts us from the silence of meaning. Silence is where we discover what it means to live. This poem is a wonderful reminder.