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Best Famous Wendell Berry Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Wendell Berry poems. This is a select list of the best famous Wendell Berry poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Wendell Berry poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Wendell Berry poems.

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by Wendell Berry | |

Testament

 1.
Dear relatives and friends, when my last breath Grows large and free in air, don't call it death -- A word to enrich the undertaker and inspire His surly art of imitating life; conspire Against him.
Say that my body cannot now Be improved upon; it has no fault to show To the sly cosmetician.
Say that my flesh Has a perfect compliance with the grass Truer than any it could have striven for.
You will recognize the earth in me, as before I wished to know it in myself: my earth That has been my care and faithful charge from birth, And toward which all my sorrows were surely bound, And all my hopes.
Say that I have found A good solution, and am on my way To the roots.
And say I have left my native clay At last, to be a traveler; that too will be so.
Traveler to where? Say you don't know.
2.
But do not let your ignorance Of my spirit's whereabouts dismay You, or overwhelm your thoughts.
Be careful not to say Anything too final.
Whatever Is unsure is possible, and life is bigger Than flesh.
Beyond reach of thought Let imagination figure Your hope.
That will be generous To me and to yourselves.
Why settle For some know-it-all's despair When the dead may dance to the fiddle Hereafter, for all anybody knows? And remember that the Heavenly soil Need not be too rich to please One who was happy in Port Royal.
I may be already heading back, A new and better man, toward That town.
The thought's unreasonable, But so is life, thank the Lord! 3.
So treat me, even dead, As a man who has a place To go, and something to do.
Don't muck up my face With wax and powder and rouge As one would prettify An unalterable fact To give bitterness the lie.
Admit the native earth My body is and will be, Admit its freedom and Its changeability.
Dress me in the clothes I wore in the day's round.
Lay me in a wooden box.
Put the box in the ground.
4.
Beneath this stone a Berry is planted In his home land, as he wanted.
He has come to the gathering of his kin, Among whom some were worthy men, Farmers mostly, who lived by hand, But one was a cobbler from Ireland, Another played the eternal fool By riding on a circus mule To be remembered in grateful laughter Longer than the rest.
After Doing that they had to do They are at ease here.
Let all of you Who yet for pain find force and voice Look on their peace, and rejoice.


by Wendell Berry | |

Ripening

 The longer we are together
the larger death grows around us.
How many we know by now who are dead! We, who were young, now count the cost of having been.
And yet as we know the dead we grow familiar with the world.
We, who were young and loved each other ignorantly, now come to know each other in love, married by what we have done, as much as by what we intend.
Our hair turns white with our ripening as though to fly away in some coming wind, bearing the seed of what we know.
It was bitter to learn that we come to death as we come to love, bitter to face the just and solving welcome that death prepares.
But that is bitter only to the ignorant, who pray it will not happen.
Having come the bitter way to better prayer, we have the sweetness of ripening.
How sweet to know you by the signs of this world!


by Wendell Berry | |

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

 Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay.
Want more of everything ready-made.
Be afraid to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery any more.
Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something they will call you.
When they want you to die for profit they will let you know.
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.
Denounce the government and embrace the flag.
Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands.
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 millenium.
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.
Listen to carrion -- put your ear close, and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world.
Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable.
Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satisfied to bear a child? Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth? Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade.
Rest your head in her lap.
Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it.
Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn't go.
Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.


by Wendell Berry | |

Like The Water

 Like the water
of a deep stream,
love is always too much.
We did not make it.
Though we drink till we burst, we cannot have it all, or want it all.
In its abundance it survives our thirst.
In the evening we come down to the shore to drink our fill, and sleep, while it flows through the regions of the dark.
It does not hold us, except we keep returning to its rich waters thirsty.
We enter, willing to die, into the commonwealth of its joy.


by Wendell Berry | |

In this World

 The hill pasture, an open place among the trees,
tilts into the valley.
The clovers and tall grasses are in bloom.
Along the foot of the hill dark floodwater moves down the river.
The sun sets.
Ahead of nightfall the birds sing.
I have climbed up to water the horses and now sit and rest, high on the hillside, letting the day gather and pass.
Below me cattle graze out across the wide fields of the bottomlands, slow and preoccupied as stars.
In this world men are making plans, wearing themselves out, spending their lives, in order to kill each other.


by Wendell Berry | |

In A Motel Parking Lot Thinking Of Dr. Williams

 I.
The poem is important, but not more than the people whose survival it serves, one of the necessities, so they may speak what is true, and have the patience for beauty: the weighted grainfield, the shady street, the well-laid stone and the changing tree whose branches spread above.
For want of songs and stories they have dug away the soil, paved over what is left, set up their perfunctory walls in tribute to no god, for the love of no man or woman, so that the good that was here cannot be called back except by long waiting, by great sorrows remembered and to come by invoking the thunderstones of the world, and the vivid air.
II.
The poem is important, as the want of it proves.
It is the stewardship of its own possibility, the past remembering itself in the presence of the present, the power learned and handed down to see what is present and what is not: the pavement laid down and walked over regardlessly--by exiles, here only because they are passing.
Oh, remember the oaks that were here, the leaves, purple and brown, falling, the nuthatches walking headfirst down the trunks, crying "onc! onc!" in the brightness as they are doing now in the cemetery across the street where the past and the dead keep each other.
To remember, to hear and remember, is to stop and walk on again to a livelier, surer measure.
It is dangerous to remember the past only for its own sake, dangerous to deliver a message you did not get.


by Wendell Berry | |

1991-II

 The ewes crowd to the mangers;
Their bellies widen, sag;
Their udders tighten.
Soon The little voices cry In morning cold.
Soon now The garden must be worked, Laid off in rows, the seed Of life to come brought down Into the dark to rest, Abide awhile alone, And rise.
Soon, soon again The cropland must be plowed, For the years promise now Answers the years desire, Its hunger and its hope.
This goes against the time When food is bought, not grown.
O come into the market With cash, and come to rest In this economy Where all we need is money To be well stuffed and free By sufferance of our Lord, The Chairman of the Board.
Because theres thus no need To plant ones ground with seed.
Under the seasons sway, Against the best advice, In time of death and tears, In slow snowfall of years, Defiant and in hope, We keep an older way In light and breath to stay This household on its slope


by Wendell Berry | |

1991-I

 The year begins with war.
Our bombs fall day and night, Hour after hour, by death Abroad appeasing wrath, Folly, and greed at home.
Upon our giddy tower We'd oversway the world.
Our hate comes down to kill Those whom we do not see, For we have given up Our sight to those in power And to machines, and now Are blind to all the world.
This is a nation where No lovely thing can last.
We trample, gouge, and blast; The people leave the land; The land flows to the sea.
Fine men and women die, The fine old houses fall, The fine old trees come down: Highway and shopping mall Still guarantee the right And liberty to be A peaceful murderer, A murderous worshipper, A slender glutton, Forgiving No enemy, forgiven By none, we live the death Of liberty, become What we have feared to be.


by Wendell Berry | |

What We Need Is Here

 Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes.
Abandon, as in love or sleep, holds them to their way, clear in the ancient faith: what we need is here.
And we pray, not for new earth or heaven, but to be quiet in heart, and in eye, clear.
What we need is here.


by Wendell Berry | |

The Real Work

 It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.