Thursday, February 22, 2007

"All My Stirring Becomes Quiet"

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

Wendell Berry [1934 - ] was born in Kentucky following 5 generations of Berrys who raised tobacco. In 1987 after an extensive education [his classmates were Larry McMurtry, Edward Abbey and Ken Kesey at one point] and writing career, he returned to the English Department at the University of Kentucky to teach and write. He is a prolific writer of novels, short stories, poetry and essays. He has won numerous literary awards and prizes, and continues to write to this day.
First two photos courtesy of Google Images
Last photo courtesy of Webshots


Magdalene6127 said...

Thank you for this exquisite post, poem and pictures.

Blessed Lent to you.


Dennis said...


Catherine + said...

Dear Mags and Dennis, you are most welcome...we need the ability to let things go, with ourselves and our world, and simply be present. I'm just learning how...

Eileen said...

Beautifully calming, Catherine+! Thank you.

This has provided some much needed balm for me today!

Grandmère Mimi said...

I love Wendell Berry, and this poem is beautiful. I've wanted to quote him many times, but I was doubtful about doing it, as he is still alive and his work is under copyright. Is there a way to get permission to quote his poems?

Catherine + said...

Grandmere' Mimi. I began quoting poets after I saw maggi dawn do so and she was my source for Wendell Berry. I followed her lead simply by assigning his name as author. I have blogs quote poets and writers all the time and merely assign their names thereby acknowledging their claim to the piece. I suppose that if one needed to, they would write the publisher, et al. I have tried to find this particular work in anthologies of his but have not found it. For now I acknowledge his ownership by naming him as author. I never see copyright infringement on sites such as where living and past poets' works are readily available. Thanks for asking GM. And thanks for visiting.

Psalmist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catherine + said...

Grandmere'Mimi and Psalmist, et al:

This Lenten exercise is meant to calm and create reflection of the posted piece for all. Period. It was to be an enjoyable exercise for me and others. Let it be so.

As a writer and as a scholar, I do know how to cite a source--living or dead. I do know the minimum and maximum requirements of a citation. Please, if you are going to question my ability to "write and cite", please do so off blog and we'll take it from there.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Catherine, I truly meant no criticism. I was simply asking a question. I'm sorry if I caused offense or messed up the comment thread.

Catherine + said...

GM, I'm sorry for flipping my much for practicing "letting go" of stuff...

Thank you...for your presence in the blogosphere, among other things.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Catherine, thank you for your presence, too.

I understand. We all have our "flippin' out" moments.

Anonymous said...

The poem of Wendell Berry teaches us how important Trees and Nature are for making the mind peaceful, calm and tranquil.