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Summary

"Literature, drama, poetry, make certain statements about [human] acts that can be made in no other way." (Thomas Merton)

Take Thomas Merton as your personal poetry professor.

You know Thomas Merton as one of the most beloved voices of the 20th century: a profound mystic, a gifted writer, and an exceptional teacher. He was also a celebrated poet and lifelong lover of literature, and these lectures showcase his extraordinary insights into poetry. Whatever your level of familiarity with poetry, hearing Merton in his own voice will invigorate your imagination.

In this captivating set, Merton explores how poetry illuminates such topics as love, suffering, spirituality, and nature. Under his guidance, you will look at poets like William Blake, Gerard Manley Hopkins, WH Auden, TS Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Ezra Pound, Charles Peguy, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Both thoroughly in touch with contemporary society and unafraid to critique it from a Christian lens, Merton provides a unique perspective on classic literature.

These lectures transport you into Thomas Merton's classroom. As you will discover, Merton saw poetry not only as one of the most profound modes of human expression but also as a way to encounter Jesus. A brilliant author himself, Thomas Merton possessed an unparalleled appreciation for these poets' work. Let the words of this masterful poet enlighten you today.

Photograph of Thomas Merton by Sibylle Akers. Used with permission of the Merton Legacy Trust and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University. These recordings are from the archives of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.

©2017 Now You Know Media Inc. (P)2017 Now You Know Media Inc.

What listeners say about Thomas Merton on Poetry

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Immersive recordings of a good and wise teacher

These recordings put you in the classroom of Thomas Merton, a Benedictine Monk, teacher and over of poetry and literature, writer, sage, mystic. I discovered him last year through reading 'The Seven Storey Mountain,' his autobiography, and connected.
These taped lessons were recorded in 1965, a turbulent time for Merton's America. During these recordings we learn that Malcom X has been assassinated, that state sanctioned 'brutes' laughing and violently put down protests on racial injustice, that T.S Eliot has died, and more. It's an amazing restoration of his taped lessons. We hear the student monks in the background, hear their questions, listen to their laughter, listen to them leave the classes under Merton's benediction. We listen to bells chime outside. It gives it all an incredible, immersive immediacy.
Merton here covers lyrical poetry and songs, the passion in poetry and literature, the works of William Blake and Gerald Manley Hopkins, and more. Given the setting listeners should not be surprised by the deep infusion of the Catholic and Christian faith that runs through all this.
A key theme include the power of symbolism to transcend literalism, and he is firmly against reductionist and literal readings of the Bible. He reaches into Jung to reinforce his teaching on symbols and archetypes. This is deep and nourishing and yet accessible stuff.

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really felt I got to know Merton

at heart Merton was a monk and a poet. in these conferences he is at his best, talking to monks about the poetry he loves