standing up in its trunk and branches
like a camouflaged hunter. In the night
I am wakened by one of its branches
crashing down, heavy as a wall, and then
lie sleepless, the world changed.
That is life I know the country by.
Mine is a life I know the country by.
Willing to live and die, we stand here,
timely and at home, neighborly as two men.
Our place is changing in us as we stand,
and we hold up the weight that will bring us down.
In us the land enacts its history.
When we stood it was beneath us, and was
the strength by which we held to it
and stood, the daylight over it
a mighty blessing we cannot bear for long.
Wendell Berry, The Country of Marriage, pg. 3, 1973
This book of poems has many lovely, nature references to death. For decades, they soothe and are just as relevant to my own stages of maturity as they are to my dying relatives with whom I share.
The art of life nurtures the soul. Poetry speaks to the heart, warms new areas growing in dark places. Wendell Berry’s words are rooted in a soil familiar to our soul. Every reading brings new awakening. As Leonard Bernstein lie in his dying bed, a friend read Rumi poetry. Poetry can reach the hidden chambers of the heart.