Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How to Be a Poet

How to Be a Poet
(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
Wendell Berry

From a recent The Writer's Almanac.



Ed Baker said...

I must admit to having neglected Wendel Berry

moon moon moon moon
all of these eons
accumulating meanings

Charles Gramlich said...

There are no unsacred places.


Anonymous said...


If readers are interested, the Wendell Berry poem is from his 2005 collection "Given". There are a number of interesting short poems in Part 1 of the collection, including three traditional (5-7-5) haiku, I think a bit of a departure for Berry.


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Ed, love the moon moon moon moon poem ...

Charles, yes, that was the idea that struck me, too ...

JL: Thanks, I'll check it out. My wife is a collector of Berry and I bet she has a copy around here somewhere ... though I do admit, Berry is one of those poets for whom my attention doesn't wander no matter the length of the poem ...


L. Espenmiller said...

Thanks for this, Don. Perfect medicine for what has been ailing me.


Unknown said...

Hi Don - very good to find your blog - I've blogrolled it at www.ahandfulofstones.com, my blogzine of 'small stones'.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Lisa, Wendell Berry just has that kind of way. Soothing to the soul while as real as real can be.

Fiona, thanks for the kind words - I've linked up to your A Handful of Stones. I like what you are doing ...


Unknown said...

Thank you Don!