When I Was Saul

“St. Paul” (1946)


When I was Saul, and sat among the cloaks,

My eyes were stones, I saw no sight of heaven,

Open to take the spirit of the twisting Stephen.

When I was Saul, and sat among the rocks,

I locked my eyes, and made my brain my tomb,

Sealed with what boulders rolled across my reason!


When I was Saul and walked upon the blazing desert

My road was quiet as a trap.

I feared what word would split high noon with light

And lock my life, and try to drive me mad:

And thus I saw the Voice that struck me dead.


Tie up my breath, and wind me in white sheets of anguish,

And lay me in my three days’ sepulchre

Until I find my Easter in a vision.


Oh Christ! Give back my life, go, cross Damascus,

Find out my Ananias in that other room:

Command him, as you do, in this my dream;

He knows my locks, and owns my ransom,

Waits for Your word to take his keys and come.


Thomas Merton, OSCO (1915-1968) was a Trappist monk, theologian, and mystic, who wrote over 50 books about the spiritual life, social justice, and interfaith understanding. He is commemorated on December 10 on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church.



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