Tag Archives: Wendell Berry

The air is full of falling.

XV.

Again the air is full
of falling: the fall of the leaves
in the weighty season that brings
all home again to the lowly
miracle from which they came.

Nature, the mother and maker,
requires that life take form,
enflesh itself in the shapes
and habits of the world’s unnumbered
kinds. And then she requires
each one at last to shed
its guise, giving up
its matter to the life to come.

Think of a world of no fall,
no gravity, calling downward,
homeward, bringing all
by the light uprisen down
to rest in the resting land
— a world, instead, where all
that dies would fly upward
and outward, nameless and alone.
How sterile then would be
the earth, seasonless the year.

The year is the showing forth
of the heavenly love that is
the being of the present world.
The leaves, opening and at last
falling, hold a while
the beauty of God who made them
by the work and care of Nature,
His vicar and our mother.
His only is the light
of which all things are made,
the beauty that they are,
the delight that is our prayer.

-Wendell Berry in A Small Porch

A song, a blessing on this place.

Slowly, slowly, they return
To the small woodland let alone:
Great trees, outspreading and upright,
apostles of the living light.

Patient as stars, they build in air
Tier after tier a timbered choir,
Stout beams upholding weightless grace
of song, a blessing on this place.

They stand in waiting all around,
Uprisings of their native ground,
Downcomings of the distant light
They are the advent they await.

Receiving sun and giving shade,
Their life’s a benefaction made,
And is a benediction said
Over the living and the dead.

In fall their brightened leaves, released,
Fly down the wind and we are pleased
To walk on radiance, amazed.
Oh light come down to earth, be praised!

Olympic Peninsula, Washington, 2010

The ripe October light.

In the fall, the fresh air and thin, slanted light combine to put so many things in a new, or renewed, perspective. When I read the poem below, I found myself searching my surroundings for images that fit the poet’s words.

Down at the creek I had seen the leaves starting to turn, so I took their picture. But between now and then I’ve noticed so many other things even closer by that are infused with energy, and at the same time invite me to an intangible, but most real, resting place.

The sky bright after summer-ending rain,
I sat against an oak half up the climb.
The sun was low; the woods was hushed in shadow;
Now the long shimmer of the crickets’ song
Had stopped. I looked up to the westward ridge
And saw the ripe October light again,
Shining through leaves still green yet turning gold.
Those glowing leaves made of the light a place
That time and leaf would leave. The wind came cool,
And then I knew that I was present in
The long age of the passing world, in which
I once was not, now am, and will not be,
And in that time, beneath the changing tree,
I rested in a keeping not my own.

-Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir

The air moves, the trees wait.

Myriah and I were standing on the shoulder of Gumdrop Dome, looking across the lake to the other shore. She said that the trees rising in ascending rows from the water’s edge reminded her of a choir standing straight at attention. I made a note to include that image in a blog post if I could.

Later we were talking about age and getting old and what is youthfulness? and I was looking up a poem by Wendell Berry that I posted here once, when I found this fitting one:

What do the tall trees say
To the late havocs in the sky?
They sigh.
The air moves, and they sway.
When the breeze on the hill
Is still, then they stand still.
They wait.
They have no fear. Their fate
Is faith. Birdsong
Is all they’ve wanted, all along.

-Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems

 

 

 

The thought of the trees listening to the birds comforts me. I don’t see half the birds here that I see at home, though as Myriah noted, “I’ve heard more birds than I’ve seen.” Yesterday I got the idea of putting some  berries on the deck and railing in hopes of attracting a Steller’s Jay. Nope. Not even a chipmunk has found one yet.

But a blue dragonfly just now graced my field of vision with his blue whirr.