“The Stones” by Wendell Berry

The main theme of this series of posts is the sense of nature that gives us strength and healing. The poetry of Wendell Berry often does that. He was in touch with the earth, though often from a more agricultural standpoint. He once wrote a poem about stones, from a farmer’s point of view. They are obstacles, needing to be broken up and removed so that the land can be cultivated. But Berry also shows regard and respect for these stones, for what he calls their music, mute in them until he connects to them and they connect him to the ground.  

Photo by Stephen Winter 

“The Stones” by Wendell Berry

I owned a slope full of stones.

Like buried pianos they lay in the ground,

shards of old sea-ledges, stumbling blocks

where the earth caught and kept them

dark, an old music mute in them

that my head keeps now I have dug them out.

I broke them where they slugged in the dark

cells, and lifted them up in pieces.

As I piled them in the light

I began their music. I heard their old lime

rouse in breath of song that had not left me.

I gave pain and weariness to their bearing out.

What bond have I made with the earth,

having worn myself against it? It is a fatal singing

I have carried with me out of that day.

The stones have given me music

that figures for me their holes in the earth

and their long lying in them dark.

They have taught me the weariness that loves the ground,

and I must prepare a fitting silence.

 

From Farming: A Handbook

by Wendell Berry


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