Thomas James Merton


An Elegy for Five Old Ladies

Let us forget that it is spring and celebrate the riderless will of five victims.
Old companions are sitting silent in the home. Five of their number have suddenly gone too far; as if waifs,
As if orphans were to swim without license. Their ride was not lucky. It took them very far out of bounds.
Mrs. Watson said she saw them all go at three-forty-five. Their bell had rung too loud and too late.
It was a season when water is too cold for anyone, and is especially icy for an old person.

Iphigenia: Politics

The stairs lead to the room as bleak as glass
Where fancy turns the statues.
The empty chairs are dreaming of a protocol,
The tables, of a treaty;
And the world has become a museum.

(The girl is gone,
Fled from the broken altar by the beach,
From the unholy sacrifice when calms became a trade-wind.)



A Personage is seen
Leaning upon a cushion
Printed with cornflowers.

A Child appears
Holding up a pencil.

“This is a picture
(Says the Child to the Personage)
Of the vortex.”

“Draw it your own way,”
Says the Personage.

(Music is heard
Pure in the island windows,
Sea-music on the Child’ s
Interminable shore, his coral home.)