Words to live by

wineivyApologies up front, but I’m afraid I’ve still got resolutions on my mind these days. It’s the time of year. All grey and tenuous, with hints of newness yet to come. I’m a quieter person lately, more introspective. Quieter except around Luke who is, unfortunately, the receptacle of all my circular musings. Basically it comes down to this: I want to be more present and intentional with my time. Time. That is the pervading, pestering concept. How much of it do I have? How can I use it effectively?

I keep forgetting it, but another of my resolutions is to read more poetry this year. I think it would suit my mood and this time of life. A quick trip to the library over the weekend yielded these two thin books of poetry by Wendell Berry. I may have to paste this poem onto my desk wall.

How to be a Poet (to remind myself)

From Given by Wendell Berry

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.

How are your New Year’s intentions going — it’s a better word than resolution, don’t you think? I’d love to check in, hear your progress.

PS, F. Scott Fitzgerald was another one who gave sound advice.

1 comment
  1. Anne Lowrance said:

    Love this poem, esp the part about sacred and desacratef spaces.

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