He died almost half a century ago, but Thomas Merton (1915-1968) continues to exert a significant pull on the imagination, the intellect, and the conscience.
Perhaps it is partially his resume: child of a New Zealand father and American mother; raised partially in France; parents dying of cancer; something of a dissolute youth related to his short stint at Cambridge; literary influences of Columbia University; conversion to Catholicism; joining the Trappist monks with their vows of silence at the Abbey of Gethsemani outside of Louisville, Kentucky.
Perhaps, too, it is his writings; he was a ferociously prolific writer. Coming to national attention with The Seven Storey Mountain in 1948, Merton wrote poetry, essays, criticism, and religious philosophy. (He was so prolific that many of his writings and poems were published for the first time after his death.) He became an opponent of the atomic bomb and went on to become an antiwar activist in the 1960s. His faith became the basis for social action and social activism.
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.
Photograph by Vera Kratochvil via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.