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Sunday, January 2, 2011

How to Be a Poet

(Young Girl Peeling Apples by Nicolaes Maes,
1634-1693, Dutch painter)

“Silence does not exist in our lives merely for its own sake. It is ordered to something else. Silence is the mother of speech. A lifetime of silence is ordered to an ultimate declaration, which can be put into words, a declaration of all we have lived for. . . .

“Silence is the strength of our interior life. Silence enters into the very core of our moral being, so that if we have no silence we have no morality. Silence enters mysteriously into the composition of all the virtues, and silence preserves them from corruption.” ~ Thomas Merton (1915-1968), American Trappist monk, poet, and writer of many essays and books


(to remind myself)

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 poems,
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.

~ Wendell Berry, born 1934, American poet, writer, and farmer


Barbara Sullivan Mangogna said...

Oh, my. What a wonderful guide for the New Year. I will keep it with me alwas. Thank you. Happy 2011.

Bruce said...

I like this one. A lot.
I printed it out to think about more at length.

GretchenJoanna said...

I love that line, "only sacred places and desecrated places."

Wonderful poem. Thank you!

and Happy New Year!