Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered
the clarity of early morning.
One after another my former lives were departing,
like ships, together with their sorrow.
And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas
assigned to my brush came closer,
ready now to be described better than they were before.
I was not separated from people,
grief and pity joined us.
We forget – I kept saying – that we are all children of the King.
For where we come from there is no division
into Yes and No, into is, was, and will be.
We were miserable, we used no more than a hundredth part
of the gift we received for our long journey.
Moments from yesterday and from centuries ago –
a sword blow, the painting of eyelashes before a mirror
of polished metal, a lethal musket shot, a caravel
staving its hull against a reef – they dwell in us,
waiting for a fulfillment.
I knew, always, that I would be a worker in the vineyard,
as are all men and women living at the same time,
whether they are aware of it or not.
“The experience of an enlarged intimacy is not the only reason to want art in our lives, but it is a central reason. The windows that break open the boundaries of a poem, piece of music, or painting do the same work: they awaken and give entrance to what might otherwise not be recognized, felt, or known as inseparably part of the story.”
Jane Hirshfield, Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World
“I can’t give up writing, and everywhere I turn I find the stuff I write sticking to me like fly paper, the gramophone inside me playing the same old tune: ‘ Admiration, admiration – You are my ideal – you are the one, original, cloistered genius, the tonsered wonder of the western world.’ It is not comforting to be such a confounded ape.”
” But then there was this shadow, this double, this writer who had followed me into the cloister. He is still on my track. I cannot lose him. He bears the name of Thomas Merton. Is it the name of an enemy? He is supposed to be dead….He generates books in the silence that ought to be sweet with the infinitely productive darkness of contemplation.”
” How necessary it is for monks to work in the fields, in the rain, in the sun, in the mud, in the clay, in the wind: these are our spiritual directors and our novice masters. They form our contemplation. They instil us with virtue. They make us as stable as the land we live on. You do not get that out of a typewriter.”