Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk in the United States during the 20th century. He is one of the best known Catholic spiritual writers of the last century. He was a lover of literature and a poet in his own right. He wrote many poems about Advent, the Annunciation, and Christmas. This particular poem is aptly titled simply “Advent.” In this poem we are given clues about how to prepare ourselves for Christmas during the four weeks of Advent.
For more Advent and Christmas poetry, visit this page on the University of Dayton’s website.
“Advent” by Thomas Merton
Charm with your stainlessness these winter nights,
Skies, and be perfect! Fly, vivider in the fiery dark, you quiet meteors,
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,
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!
Thomas Merton’s Advent Poem Reflection Questions
- What do you think Merton means by “charm with your stainlessness”?
- How can you become “more humble than the rocks” during this Advent season?
- How can you become “more wakeful than the patient hills” during Advent as you prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas?
- In what ways will you “travel like the gentle Virgin” and reflect on the stories of Mary, Joseph, and the birth of Christ during this Advent season?
- Have you ever taken some time to admire the full moon? What feelings does the moon evoke in your heart?
The Formative Fiction Newsletter
These reflection questions originally appeared in the Formative Fiction Friday Newsletter.