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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Writing on behalf of the earth


“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” – Wendell Berry

A native Kentuckian, born this day in 1934, he grew up on a farm and continues to farm yet today, although writing and speaking are important and busy parts of his life.     A prolific author, he has written many novels, short stories, poems, and essays, and is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.                              
  Elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2013, he also is a recipient of The National Humanities Medal.  

Berry's lyric poetry often appears as a contemporary eclogue, pastoral, or elegy; but he also composes dramatic and historical narratives, and I encourage you to look up his works "Bringer of Water" and "July, 1773."   Or for a wonderful view of his view of farm life and nature, read his book Clearing.  For Berry, poetry exists "at the center of a complex reminding.”  Here, for Saturday’s Poem, is Berry’s:
Water
I was born in a drought year. That summer
my mother waited in the house, enclosed
in the sun and the dry ceaseless wind,
for the men to come back in the evenings,
bringing water from a distant spring.

Veins of leaves ran dry, roots shrank.
And all my life I have dreaded the return
of that year, sure that it still is
somewhere, like a dead enemy’s soul.
Fear of dust in my mouth is always with me,
and I am the faithful husband of the rain,
I love the water of wells and springs
and the taste of roofs in the water of cisterns.

I am a dry man whose thirst is praise
of clouds, and whose mind is something of a cup.
My sweetness is to wake in the night
after days of dry heat, hearing the rain.



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