Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Wendell Berry (X)

Two years ago today I created Resident Theology, and two days after that momentous event I created the present series of "Sunday Sabbath Poetry." I began with Wendell Berry, as his collection of Sabbath poems, A Timbered Choir, had reinvigorated my love for poetry just six months earlier; and of course the title was and is homage to this influence.

It is only fitting, then, after two years and nine Sunday posts dedicated to the great modern agrarian poet, that we celebrate today with his tenth appearance in the series, and the one from which the collection received its title. Below is the first and only poem Berry wrote on a Sabbath walk in 1986. Enjoy.

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Slowly, slowly, they return

By Wendell Berry

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.
O light come down to earth, be praised!

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