by Thomas Merton

Now where the hills of Languedoc are blue with vineyards
Swimming to the brows of the low ridges brown as shells,
A thousand villages begin to name your night with fires.

The flames that wake as wide as faith,
Opening their fierce and innocent eyes from hell to hill
In the midsummer nightfall
Burn at the ageless cross-roads these their
Pagan and converted fires.

All the dark shocks of the fair summer’s harvest
Rise up in the deep fields
Where for two thousand years, St. John,
Your fires are young among us:
They cry out there, loud as was your desert testimony,
Out at the crossing of the vineyard roads
Where once the wheat sheaves wept with blood
In warning to the sickles of the manichees.

And in our hearts, here in another nation
Is made your deep midsummer night.
It is a night of other fires,

Wherein all thoughts, all wreckage of the noisy world
Swim out of ken like leaves, or smoke upon the pools of wind.

Oh, listen to that darkness, listen to that deep darkness,
Listen to those seas of darkness on whose shores we stand and die.
Now can we have you, peace, now can we sleep in
Your will, sweet God of peace?
Now can we have Your Word and in Him rest?

Prophet and hermit, great John-Baptist,
You who brought us to the door-sill of your wilderness,
You who have won for us
The first faint savor of the word’s desertion:
When shall we have to eat the things that we have barely tasted?
When shall we have your own vast loneliness’s holy honeycomb?

You hold in your hands, lo! more than Baptism:
the fruits and three virtues and the seven presents.
We wait upon your intercessions:
Or die we without mercy on the rim of those impossible shores?

Kindle, kindle in this wilderness
The tracks of those wonderful fires:
Clean us and lead us in the new night, with the power of Elias
and find us out the summits of the love and prayer
That wisdom wants of us, oh Bridegroom’s Friend!

And take us to the secret tents,
The sacred, unimaginable tabernacles
Burning upon the hills of our desire!

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