Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Given", poems by Wendell Berry

I first came across author Wendell Berry in my Most Awesome First Saturday Book Club when we read his novel, The Memory of Old Jack. When I saw that he had published a book of poems, my interest was piqued; and when I read on the cover that "for those who believe that life and the world are gifts, this is an invaluable book," I was hooked.

I have been sampling these poems bit by bit for over a month now. I find I can not sit down and devour a book of poetry from cover to cover the way I can a novel. Perhaps because poetry is too rich. I have enjoyed reading a selection each morning as I eat breakfast.

Some of my brief favorites:


If you imagine
others are there,
you are there yourself.

I disagree, but what a profound thought!

Seventy Years

Well, anyhow, I am
not going to die young.

That's one way to look at it! Is it an optomistic outlook on the future, or looking on the bright side of the present? Really, this is just a twist on saying "I am old," which is not so optimistic after all.

A Position

I'm philosophically opposed to iced drinks;
Last should equal first, for a man who thinks.

Maybe that one isn't so profound, but there is a smart truth in it.

A Passing Thought

I think therefore
I think I am.

This one makes me laugh! Especially since I find this take more logical than Descartes' Cogito, ergo sum. I had always agreed with the original, but now I see that thinking really is not proof of existence as I had originally... thought!

The ongoing Holy War against evil

Stop the killing, or
I'll kill you, you
God-damned murderer!

Definitely a statement on America and our presence in the Middle East in this "war that is not a war" even though soldiers and death are involved. But he's right. Killing is killing. Why do we justify some of it (ours) and not others of it (theirs)? One possible explanation I can see is that killing soldiers is justifiable because they have signed up for that possibility, but killing civilians is never acceptable. Even so, that does not sit well.

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