POETRY: From The Legend Of St. Clement by Thomas Merton

From The Legend Of St. Clement by Thomas Merton

I have seen the sun
Spilling its copper petals on the Black Sea
By the base of the prisoners’ cliff
Where, from the acts of martyrs,
Tall poems grow up like buildings.

Deep in the wall of the wounded mountain
(Where seas no longer frown)
The songs of the martyrs come up like cities or buildings.
Their chains shine with hymns
And their hands cut down the giant blocks of stone.

Poetry, psalms
Flower with a huge architecture
Raising their grandeur on the gashed cape.
Words of God blaze like a disaster
In the windows of their prophetic cathedral.
But the sighs of the deep multitude
Grow out of the mountain’s heart as clean as vines.

O martyrs! O tremendous prisoners!
Burying your murder in this marble hill!
The Lamb shall soon stand
White as a shout against the sky:
His feet shall soon strike rainbows from the rock.
The cliffs give up their buried streams.
Throw down the chains of your wrists, prisoners!
Drink, and swim!

The winds have carried your last sentences
Across Ukraine.
Your poetry shall grow in distant places.
Asia, Greece, Egypt, England know your name.
Your hymns shall stand like vineyards
And swing with fruit in other worlds, in other centuries.

And your ecstasy shall make shade,
Foliage for summers unforeseen
To cover travellers in continents you have not known
When the temples have fallen,
The theaters cemented in your blood have long ago fallen.

Your joy echoes across the carved ridge
Plays across mountains
Stands like fleets or islands
Sailing the sea to Greece,
And after twenty times one hundred
Years of repercussion
Your waters shatter the land at my feet with seas forever young.

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