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Into Great Silence

February 8, 2007

In the abbey of the Grand Chartreuse
a monk kneels for the seventh time this day,
his lips moving silently,
his spine bent into its usual question.

Because he is the oldest they call him wise,
though sometimes he thinks he knows even less
than when he started.
Sometimes he wonders if this isn’t wisdom.

Outside, the first snowfall covers the mountains.
Blank and absolute
it offers itself to the mountain creatures,
it offers itself to their sure-footed hunger.
It offers them hunger.

by Esther Morgan

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  1. February 8, 2007 at 5:08 am

    Oh, thank you for this, Esther! The ‘ordinary’ (though beautifully evocative) flow of the first two stanzas, followed by slight bleakness and the prayerful repetition of the last – it completely captures the film, which I saw recently and loved. Though I’m sure I would have loved your poem without it. I’ll treasure this, and when I get the DVD keep them together.

  2. February 8, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Film? What film, Jean?

    I loved the poem. It made me want to illustrate it right away, the glow of the snow coming through the windows into the cold stone, cold light against the warm feeble light of candles, the old face.

  3. February 9, 2007 at 5:18 am

    Sorry! I was so carried away by my personal response that I didn’t explain it. This film, currently on release in UK, about the Grande Chartreuse monastery, which I presume Esther has seen: http://www.diegrossestille.de/deutsch/index.html
    I blogged about it, back in January, but could find no adequate response. This is it.

  4. February 10, 2007 at 11:34 am

    The last two stanzas seem to turn on themselves, both kind of reflecting the monk’s question-mark shape.

    This is as simple as snow. Beautiful.

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