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

Crumbs ~

All night long he had coughed
Then silence before dawn—
Merton found him, dead,
His stockings gone,
But under his head
Some crumbs of bread
Still hidden there.

Whereupon Thomas took them
In his priestly hands,
Spoke words over them
And placed them
In outstretched palms
Of those standing round
To save them from starving.

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