Photo:Terrell Dickey

Collected Poems 8

Abbey of Gethsemani

It rose like no other spire
From off the Kentucky landscape
For eager eyes to catch
Scanning the land from all angles
For that slender structure
Rising up from where God resides
With the silent men.

Deeming it useless
They dismounted it,
Left it lying in a field
Stretched out full-length,
A hollow refuge
For caring wrens.

Since then pilgrims
Have had to grope their way unaided
Along their unmapped course
Without that beacon's guidance
To draw them to that source.
from Merton's Journal. April 20, 1966 . . .

"I can hear the demolishers shouting from the top of the steeple. They are now
stripping it. A momentous change: the steeple has been so much a sign of the place --
the thing one looks for when one is getting close -- the expression of the abbey's
idenitity -- a sign that it is
there! I was disquieted by the steeple's going."