The poem marked something of a turning point for Merton. It came after he had made a private retreat and was central to his thoughts on solitude. He was convinced that he had a solitary vocation of some sort but realizing that solitary vocations do not fit into “neat categories” (as in “carthusian”).
Go back where everyone, in heavy hours,
Is of a different mind, and each is his own burden,
And each mind is its own division
With sickness for diversion and war for
Business reasons. Go where the divided
Cannot stand to be too well. For then they would be held
Responsible for their own misery.
I love this poem, with its evocations of nature and the world, time, despair and unimaginable hope, aloneness and mysterious silence. The entire poem is here.