Thursday, September 24, 2009

How To Be a Poet

by Wendell Berry

(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.


  1. I am fond of demystifying what we do. This deconstructs it but it wraps that up in its own mystique. I'm personally very keen to strip away all pretensions and just present myself as a bloke who works with words. That said, there are some good lines in this piece.

  2. Love this poem. Thanks. I also left a very long comment on your house (de)construction post, but somehow it wouldn't take my comments, so I gave up, and you'll never know how glowing I was about your work. You amaze me.
    Please upload your house photos to Shutterfly, turn it into a hardbound book, give to your family for a Christmas present, and I would buy one too. Wow!


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