Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Poem for the day: Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry epitomizes to some degree, the idiocy of rural life.

A Speech to the Garden Club of America in the New Yorker, of course.

(With thanks to Wes Jackson and in memory of Sir Albert Howard and Stan Rowe.)

Thank you. I’m glad to know we’re friends, of course;

There are so many outcomes that are worse.

But I must add I’m sorry for getting here

By a sustained explosion through the air,

Burning the world in fact to rise much higher

Than we should go. The world may end in fire

As prophesied—our world! We speak of it

As “fuel” while we burn it in our fit

Of temporary progress, digging up

An antique dark-held luster to corrupt

The present light with smokes and smudges, poison

To outlast time and shatter comprehension.

Burning the world to live in it is wrong,

As wrong as to make war to get along

And be at peace, to falsify the land

By sciences of greed, or by demand

For food that’s fast or cheap to falsify

The body’s health and pleasure—don’t ask why.

But why not play it cool? Why not survive

By Nature’s laws that still keep us alive?

Let us enlighten, then, our earthly burdens

By going back to school, this time in gardens

That burn no hotter than the summer day.

By birth and growth, ripeness, death and decay,

By goods that bind us to all living things,

Life of our life, the garden lives and sings.

The Wheel of Life, delight, the fact of wonder,

Contemporary light, work, sweat, and hunger

Bring food to table, food to cellar shelves.

A creature of the surface, like ourselves,

The garden lives by the immortal Wheel

That turns in place, year after year, to heal

It whole. Unlike our economic pyre

That draws from ancient rock a fossil fire,

An anti-life of radiance and fume

That burns as power and remains as doom,

The garden delves no deeper than its roots

And lifts no higher than its leaves and fruits.

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