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View Diary: Books That Changed My Life--What Is Your Favorite Poem About Death? (94 comments)

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  •  For My Brother - Missing in Action 1943 (15+ / 0-)

    by Thomas Merton

    Sweet brother, if I do not sleep
    My eyes are flowers for your tomb;
    And if I cannot eat my bread,
    My fasts shall live like willows where you died.
    If in the heat I find no water for my thirst,
    My thirst shall turn to springs for you, poor traveller.

    Where, in what desolate and smokey country,
    Lies your poor body, lost and dead?
    And in what landscape of disaster
    Has your unhappy spirit lost its road?

    Come, in my labor find a resting place
    And in my sorrows lay your head,
    Or rather take my life and blood
    And buy yourself a better bed

    -Or take my breath and take my death
    And buy yourself a better rest.

    When all the men of war are shot
    And flags have fallen into dust,
    Your cross and mine shall tell men still
    Christ died on each, for both of us.

    For in the wreckage of your April Christ lies slain,
    And Christ weeps in the ruins of my spring:
    The money of Whose tears shall fall
    Into your weak and friendless hand,
    And buy you back to your own land:

    The silence of Whose tears shall fall
    Like bells upon your alien tomb.
    Hear them and come: they call you home.

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 05:26:51 AM PDT

    •  Ah, Satya1! (5+ / 0-)

      Would this be the well-known Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk?

      This poem makes me think of Gerard Manley Hopkins, for some reason. I like the stanza in which Merton offers to die in his brother's place.

      You can tell how his faith infuses every line of this poem. Merton has given much to the world.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 05:47:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. And Merton (4+ / 0-)

        was a great fan of Hopkins as you might know.

        I like the apparent contradictions and not just the metaphors of the poem, which Merton would likely say is more about the paradox of Christian faith.  A  person can live and be spiritually dead.  The dead can have spiritual life.

        My eyes are flowers for your tomb
        My thirst shall turn to springs...
        Offering his life for his brother's
        Christ silent tears are bells.

        I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

        by Satya1 on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 07:10:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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