A Thought at the End of Ordinary Time

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A Thought at the End of Ordinary Time
from Wendell Berry

I know I am getting old and I say so,
but I don’t think of myself as an old man.
I think of myself as a young man
with unforeseen debilities. Time is neither
young nor old, but simply new, always
counting, the only apocalypse. And the clouds
–no mere measure or geometry, no cubism,
can account for clouds or, satisfactorily, for bodies.
There is no science for this, or art either.
Even the old body is new — who has known it
before? — and no sooner new than gone, to be
replaced by a body yet older and again new.
The clouds are rarely absent from our sky
over this humid valley, and there is a sycamore
that I watch as, growing on the riverbank,
it forecloses the horizon, like the years
of an old man. And you, who are as old
almost as I am, I love as I have loved you
young, except that, old, I am astonished
at such a possibility, and am duly grateful.

• Wendell Berry
Leavings: Poems

8 thoughts on “A Thought at the End of Ordinary Time

  1. Leavings. 3 of the most beautiful creature I have encountered of this world left in less than three months. Sickness took them as the were always healthy and happy. The grand old scourge called cancer. These creatures only wanted us my wife and I no matter the pain they were in. It showed in there eyes as they tried to get up and greet.

    Amazing the creation. I am always in awe of it. Had to hold my friend for two hours in a car to take him for cremation as traffic held up a 20 minute drive. I was thankful and hurting at the same time. No words could describe it ever. Almost 15. They say he was in terrible pain but he still just wanted to please……….When I first held the puppy I knew the hardest would be the ending here…………..

    Christmas will pass me by again and the struggle will continue. I’ve been threaten with death and have actually said please you would be doing me a favor. They think I’m nuts but I’m not I’m tired and I hurt everyday of my life.

    For those who have found it to be so wonderful and are very happy I’m happy for you and ask God to bless you tenfold. My last comment ever


  2. “ … it would seem to be more in accord with the collective psyche of humanity to regard death as the fulfillment of life’s meaning and as its goal in the truest sense, instead of a mere meaningless cessation. Anyone who cherishes a rationalistic opinion on this score has isolated himself psychologically and stands opposed to his own basic nature.” Jung (1934)
    Aging is of course connected with death which is its natural byproduct.


  3. Indeed, no formulae can account for clouds, or bodies. And while I think materialists would do well to heed that word of wisdom, so to would those who affirm the resurrection of the body. Neither clouds nor bodies can be completely accounted for by either close scientific analyses, or precise doctrinal propositions.


  4. Wonderful poem.

    Here’s a little blurb my dad just sent me:

    “And the night will be filled with music,
         And the cares that besiege the day,
    Will fold their tents like the Arabs,
         And will silently steal away.”

    -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


  5. Profound observations by Wendell Berry couched in beautiful lyric. I’m going to save my vent over losing the Writer’s Almanac for tomorrow’s Saturday brunch. Going through severe withdrawal.


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