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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

that the light is everything




VII

by Wendell Berry


Again I resume the long
lesson: how small a thing
can be pleasing, how little
in this hard world it takes
to satisfy the mind
and bring it to its rest.

Within the ongoing havoc
the woods this morning is
almost unnaturally still.
Through stalled air, unshadowed
light, a few leaves fall
of their own weight.

The sky
is gray. It begins in mist
almost at the ground
and rises forever. The trees
rise in silence almost
natural, but not quite,
almost eternal, but
not quite.

What more did I
think I wanted? Here is
what has always been.
Here is what will always
be. Even in me,
the Maker of all this
returns in rest, even
to the slightest of His works,
a yellow leaf slowly
falling, and is pleased.




- from This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems

The book has yet to be released in PB - but is on my must have list. From the publisher's description of the book:

For nearly thirty-five years, Wendell Berry has been at work on a series of poems occasioned by his solitary Sunday walks around his farm in Kentucky. From riverfront and meadows, to grass fields and woodlots, every inch of this hillside farm lives in these poems, as do the poet's constant companions in memory and occasion, family and animals, who have with Berry created his Home Place with love and gratitude.






And one more poem for you this Canada Day morning:


The Ponds
by Mary Oliver

Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them—

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided—
and that one wears an orange blight—
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away—
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—
that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and falling. And I do.





Two poems that speak to each other in interesting ways, I think.

The beginning of the Berry poem is perfect, to me. "Again I resume the long lesson..." Because that's just how it is. We learn these simple lessons, and must relearn them again and again.

And then, Oliver asks, "But what in this world is perfect?"

I suppose I have felt at a bit of a crisis point lately. The expected bills, and then the unexpected ones, which I guess are expected nonetheless. I've been making up a two month plan, thinking of ways to get through the summer and then a two year plan with its various contingencies. If this happens, then perhaps that. etc. In the fall I will either be taking more hours at work, or looking for freelance work. Trying to decide which would be most efficient, which would make me happiest. At least there are options.





"Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled..."








"What more did I
think I wanted? Here is
what has always been."






"I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—
that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and falling. And I do."






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