Inscriptions from Monks Pond

Bird singing
ringing yellow

My friend made green
- his painting –

the sweet bird
flew in

    —Lorine Niedecker, Monks Pond I, Spring 1968 

epiphanies pull up
from roots--

    —Jonathan Williams, Monks Pond I

We climbed to a graveyard
High on the wet rock
There bodies sleep in crevices
Covered with light earth then stones

    —Thomas Merton, Monks Pond I

in the centre of the earth, a puma, nibbling the moon –
from full to crescent

and letting it grow again

    and a giant wariwillka – sunanimal – stamping,

    —Paul C. Metcalf, Monks Pond I

Once a monk asked Pai-chang, “Who is the Buddha?” the master asked him in turn, “Who are you?” It is only by being yourself that you can move freely in and out of the world without contradictions and obstacles.

    —John C.H. Wu, Monks Pond I

The removal of the self in reality means the annihilation of those experiences which bar the revealing of the real self. Sufis call the experience of removal of “I” fana, which ends in a state of ecstasy, the feeling of union; it is the beginning of baqa, the state of conscience existence.

    —Reza Aresteh, Monks Pond II, Summer 1968

Now, leaving my perplexity and haste,
I come within the boundaries of your life, an interior
clear and calm. You could not admit me burdened.
I approach you clean as a child of all that has been with me.
You speak to me in the dark tongue of my joy
that you do not know. In you I know
the deep leisure of the filling moon. May I live long.

    —Wendell Berry, Monks Pond II

A secret seed
Has sprouted.
The rot it bears to the world
Is holy.

    —Charles Simic, Monks Pond III, Fall 1968

Out of the dark, they say, and cold,
The sun is born. Will I too die to wake?
Will you remember who I am and warm
My nakedness? O river of the sun,
Come down, unprison me, let me be born.

    —Claire Livingston, Monks Pond IV, Winter 1968


* All of the above quotes are from various issues of Monks Pond, originally published by Thomas Merton, and reissued as one collection by the University Press of Kentucky in 1989 as Monks Pond: Thomas Merton's Little Magazine

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