14 October 2009

a poem i love. which, i think, could also be appropriately titled, how to be alive.

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 poems,
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. Whatever happens,
    those who have learned
    to love one another
    have made their way
    to another world
    and will not leave,
    whatever happens.

    —Wendell Berry
    Sabbaths 1998, I

    Have I told you that I did a story on Wendell and that we are friends?

  2. i love this poem and i doubt my judgment.
    i love you and i never doubtest such a thing.