Contemplative Profiles: Thomas Merton on Advent

This month’s contemplative profile by historian Lisa Deam is Thomas Merton:

In addition to writing a best-selling autobiography (The Seven Storey Mountain) and numerous books on the spiritual life, Thomas Merton was also a poet. He saw a link between contemplation and poetry and once said, “No Christian poetry worthy of the name has been written by anyone who was not in some degree a contemplative.”

Among Merton’s poetry are some beautiful verses for Advent and Christmas. Enjoy the poem below as you journey through the season.


Charm with your stainlessness these winter nights,
Skies, and be perfect!

Fly, vivider in the fiery dark, you quiet meteors,
And disappear.
You moon, be slow to go down,
This is your full!

The four white roads make off in silence
Towards the four parts of the starry universe.
Time falls like manna at the corners of the wintry earth.
We have become more humble than the rocks,
More wakeful than the patient hills.

Charm with your stainlessness these nights in Advent,
holy spheres,
While minds, as meek as beasts,
Stay close at home in the sweet hay;
And intellects are quieter than the flocks that feed by starlight.

Oh pour your darkness and your brightness over all our
solemn valleys,
You skies: and travel like the gentle Virgin,
Toward the planets’ stately setting,

Oh white full moon as quiet as Bethlehem!

Read this and other verses in The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton.


About Lisa Deam

Lisa Deam writes and speaks about Christian spiritual formation from a historical perspective. She’s the author of A World Transformed: Exploring the Spirituality of Medieval Maps. Visit her on Twitter @LisaKDeam and at