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

Man with a Violin ~

Thomas saw one arrival
Carrying a violin case
And reaching him a hand
Asked what he intended.
Whereupon the man straightened
And answered with eyes shut:
To play but ten bars 
Of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Right then a black baton
Tapped on the case
To throw it on the pile.

The bullet entered
From behind the brain,
On bending  over
To open it to play.

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