Join Thomas Merton in exploring the timeless words of one of the world’s greatest poets, Rainer Maria Rilke.
Before entering the monastery, Thomas Merton studied English at Columbia University and taught literature at St. Bonaventure University. His passion for literature never faded, and now you have the rare opportunity to take Thomas Merton as your guide in this set of his outstanding, remastered talks. Delivered to the community at the Abbey of Gethsemani in 1965 and 1966, Merton’s talks examine one of his favorite poets: Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926).
Aside from William Blake, perhaps no poet had as great an influence on Merton as Rilke, who was arguably the greatest poet from turn-of-the century Europe. Born to a devout Catholic mother in nineteenth-century Bohemia, Rilke is cherished for his beautiful verse and his multifaceted views on faith. Deeply influenced by the spiritual figures of his time, Rilke sought to explore God through the imaginative possibilities of art.
A renowned (and prolific) poet himself, Merton saw poetry as one of the most fundamental and profound modes of human expression. By exploring the works of Rilke, Merton marries his Catholic spirituality with his passion for poetry, showing how they complement and shed light on each other.
By looking at such works as Duino Elegies, The Book of Hours, and Letters to a Young Poet, you will discover how Rilke demonstrates holiness through imaginative possibilities. As you listen to Merton’s voice, you will more fully appreciate the abiding power of poetry.
This set includes an afterword by Thomas Merton biographer and literature professor Michael W. Higgins.
This course is part of the Learn25 collection.