Song for Nobody

by Thomas Merton


Original Language English

A yellow flower
(Light and spirit)
Sings by itself
For nobody.

A golden spirit
(Light and emptiness)
Sings without a word
By itself.

Let no one touch this gentle sun
In whose dark eye
Someone is awake.

(No light, no gold, no name, no color
And no thought:
O, wide awake!)

A golden heaven
Sings by itself
A song to nobody.

-- from Selected Poems of Thomas Merton, by Thomas Merton

<<Previous Poem | More Poems by Thomas Merton | Next Poem >>


/ Image by Jonathan Thorne /


View All Poems by Thomas Merton

Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Let us sing a song... for nobody.

A yellow flower
(Light and spirit)
Sings by itself
For nobody.


I imagine Thomas Merton on a morning walk through a dawn-lit field where nothing much is happening. Just some damp grasses and a few bright flowers waking to the sun. Those flowers stand there unnoticed, unseen until now, yet they carry such bold life, bright yellow petals radiant in the morning sun. They are an embodiment of light and spirit.

All of life, all of existence sings -- but for whom?

The world dances with a golden light. Who is the real audience for this performance?

Perhaps the intended audience is God. Perhaps the flowers array themselves for their own private delight. But Merton says this song of light and spirit is for nobody because it is clearly not for him. He is utterly inconsequential to the scene. The flowers don't care about him. They don't adjust themselves to his presence. In fact, he is the one who is unnoticed, not the flowers.

(No light, no gold, no name, no color
And no thought:
O, wide awake!)


Enraptured by this moment of beauty, to which he is a non-entity, Merton disappears. Thought ceases, the mind quiets and brings to a halt its endless naming and categorizing. There is just stillness and the moment witnessed. That is when the ecstatic moment of awakening occurs -- O, wide awake!

A golden heaven
Sings by itself
A song to nobody.


In this state of no-mind and no-self, we, along with Merton, are somehow profoundly alive! Awake, we see the world, perhaps for the first time, as it truly is -- a golden heaven. And that heaven sings all around us, all the time! For whom? For no one in particular. Life sings to life. Spirit sings because it is spirit. The nature of being is song and light and life. When we quiet the busy mind and drop our own self-importance, we too join in that living symphony.

Have a beautiful day!



Recommended Books: Thomas Merton

Selected Poems of Thomas Merton The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton A Thomas Merton Reader The Strange Islands: Poems by Thomas Merton Thomas Merton Monk & Poet: A Critical Study





Song for Nobody