Poems in Interreligious Dialogue: Searching for God in the Poetry of Ku Sang and Thomas Merton
Twentieth-century poets Ku Sang and Thomas Merton, two Catholic poets from Korea and America, respectively, were both aware of a space between themselves and God. Their poetry reveals attempts to go and find him. Because their searches for God entailed an interreligious nexus, insofar as their poetry blended Buddhist and Christian religious imagery, I utilise a comparative method, drawn from the field of Comparative Theology, which juxtaposes religious texts from differing faith traditions; I place Zen Buddhist kōans side-by-side with the Christian poems, each poem understood as representing a way to seek God. Moreover, I provide close readings of each poem and kōan, with critical commentary on the poems and interpretation of any new meaning revealed by the juxtaposition of texts. As a result of my examination, I propose that exploration of how these poets expressed their own understanding of God’s whereabouts, achieved by contact with poetic experience at the naked level of the poem, yields insight both into the two men’s unique contributions to broader knowledge of poets searching for God and how they were transformed for the sake of searching at all.