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Selected Poems of Thomas Merton (New directions paperbooks) Paperback – June 1, 1967

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Product Details

  • Series: New directions paperbooks
  • Paperback: 1 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc; Enlarged edition (June 1967)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811201007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811201001
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,422,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has millions of copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race.

After a rambunctious youth and adolescence, Merton converted to Roman Catholicism and entered the Abbey of Gethsemani, a community of monks belonging to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists), the most ascetic Roman Catholic monastic order.

The twenty-seven years he spent in Gethsemani brought about profound changes in his self-understanding. This ongoing conversion impelled him into the political arena, where he became, according to Daniel Berrigan, the conscience of the peace movement of the 1960's. Referring to race and peace as the two most urgent issues of our time, Merton was a strong supporter of the nonviolent civil rights movement, which he called "certainly the greatest example of Christian faith in action in the social history of the United States." For his social activism Merton endured severe criticism, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike, who assailed his political writings as unbecoming of a monk.

During his last years, he became deeply interested in Asian religions, particularly Zen Buddhism, and in promoting East-West dialogue. After several meetings with Merton during the American monk's trip to the Far East in 1968, the Dali Lama praised him as having a more profound understanding of Buddhism than any other Christian he had known. It was during this trip to a conference on East-West monastic dialogue that Merton died, in Bangkok on December 10, 1968, the victim of an accidental electrocution. The date marked the twenty-seventh anniversary of his entrance to Gethsemani.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By LuelCanyon on November 19, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've loved this book for more than 30 years. It's not that Merton's an extraordinary poet-- he isn't. He makes beautiful poems, not extraordinary ones; but even a rascal can admire the fortifying intelligence that makes everything Merton writes important. It's not even the customary New Directions production-- immaculate and free, sure and devoted, as always. An American treasure this publishing company is! Included is a devoted, even loving, appreciation of Merton's poems by poet Mark van Doren (I dont know if it's found in the Collected Poems). Love for Selected Poems endures because it's from his poems that Merton incontestably emerges as a soul in the form of art. His faith is his art. Nothing's stronger-- not criticism, inscrutable public thirst, Cistercian censors.. There are intense and nearly infinite layers to Merton's prose. The poems are naked. He knew they must be and he allowed them to be naked. "..All the curtains are arranged/Not for hiding but for seeing out.." The poems are Merton's home. It's to his poems that he'll take a homely idea and make it strong, and take a unmonked sentiment and give it shelter. Merton's humanity NEVER has to fetch a witness in his poems. He stands there willing, even unpolished in his glaring humanity at times, drawing as pure hearted a breath as a man ever drew, and prayer in the form of poems you could diagram a life by. Don't make the mistake of passing this book by.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By adelia on February 14, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Merton's poetry is an aesthetic joy and a spiritual experience altogether. He soars even in dealing with the tragedies of humankind.
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