Friday, March 18, 2016

Poetry Friday: Wendell Berry

This is a time in the history of the United States when sanity seems to be in very short supply.  Wendell Berry is a good antidote for that.  I read this poem this week, and found it bracing.  It is so much the opposite of the kind of rhetoric that has filled the air lately. 

Here are some of my favorite lines:

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

...
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

...
 Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.

...
Practice resurrection.

The rest of it is good, too.  Go on, read the whole thing. 

The roundup is here today.

5 comments:

Molly Hogan said...

Wendell Berry is always a welcome antidote. I love his poem "The Peace of Wild Things" and often turn to it when I'm feeling overwhelmed by the dizzying spin and madness of our world. Thanks for introducing me to another Berry poem.

Tabatha said...

Love it! "Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts." -- we must!
Did you know that there is a Wendell Berry movie premiering this month?

Linda B said...

Thanks for sharing a hopeful antidote to this crazy election time we are experiencing. I am trying to find my own way to help it come out good, Ruth. "Plant Sequoias" brings up a fond memory. An uncle'-in-law's father, in his eighties with a tiny farm planted two trees, measuring carefully. He said that someday someone would be able to hang a hammock there for summer rest. Would that we all would follow his, and Wendell Berry's advice.

Brenda Harsham said...

What a wonderful poem. I love this part: "Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction."

I love that it calls on us to explore, to make tracks, to be recognized but to be careful as well. Very powerful poem.

Mary Lee said...

What a coincidence -- Hubby is reading The Art of the Common Ground, so I've been hearing lots about Berry the past week or so! I'd love to see that film about him and Henry County!