The Landscape

Thomas Merton


A Personage is seen
Leaning upon a cushion
Printed with cornflowers.

A Child appears
Holding up a pencil.

“This is a picture
(Says the Child to the Personage)
Of the vortex.”

“Draw it your own way,”
Says the Personage.

(Music is heard
Pure in the island windows,
Sea-music on the Child’s
Interminable shore, his coral home.)

Behind a blue mountain
Covered with chickenfoot trees,
The molten sun appears,
A heavy, painted flower.

A Personage is seen
Leaning upon the mountain
With the sun in one hand
And a pencil in the other.

“This is a picture
(Says the Personage to the Child)
Of the beginning of the world.”

“Or of its end!” cries the Child
Hiding himself in the cushions.


A Woman appears
Leaning upon the Child’s shoulder.
He looks up again.

“This is my Mother
(Says the Child to the Personage)
Older than the moon.”

(Grecian horses are heard
Returning from the foam
Of the pure island’s windows,
And the Child’s horizons.)

“My Mother is a world
(Says the Child to the Personage)
Printed with gillyflowers.”

“Paint her your own way”
(Says the Personage to the Child).
And, lifting up his pencil,
He crosses out the sun.