Wendell Berry: “Work flowerlike”

In the Wood. Photo by Nathalie at Flickr. Creative Commons License

Shall we do without hope? Some days
there will be none. But now
to the dry and dead woods floor
they come again, the first
flowers of the year, the assembly
of the faithful, the beautiful,
wholly given to being.
And in this long season
of machines and mechanical will
there have been small human acts
of compassion, acts of care, work
flowerlike in selfless loveliness.
Leaving hope to the dark
and to a better day,
receive these beauties freely
given, and give thanks.


• Wendell Berry. Leavings: Poems


10 thoughts on “Wendell Berry: “Work flowerlike”

  1. Up on the hill
    lumberjacks axing everything in sight
    Down along the stream
    crimson flowers burn

    -Chin do ba

    I don’t know: perhaps it’s a dream, all a dream. (That would surprise me.) I’ll wake, in the silence, and never sleep again. (It will be I?) Or dream (dream again), dream of a silence, a dream silence, full of murmurs (I don’t know, that’s all words), never wake (all words, there’s nothing else).

    You must go on, that’s all I know.

    They’re going to stop, I know that well: I can feel it. They’re going to abandon me. It will be the silence, for a moment (a good few moments). Or it will be mine? The lasting one, that didn’t last, that still lasts? It will be I?

    You must go on.

    I can’t go on.

    You must go on.

    I’ll go on. You must say words, as long as there are any – until they find me, until they say me. (Strange pain, strange sin!) You must go on. Perhaps it’s done already. Perhaps they have said me already. Perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story. (That would surprise me, if it opens.)

    It will be I? It will be the silence, where I am? I don’t know, I’ll never know: in the silence you don’t know.

    You must go on.

    I can’t go on.

    I’ll go on.

    ? Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable


  2. Leaving hope to the dark
    and to a better day,
    receive these beauties freely
    given, and give thanks.</blockquote<

    I can and do give thanks to God in my devotions, but I have a much harder, nearly impossible time feeling thankful. I at times can "receive these beauties" but never really freely. For me the current beauty is itself, but also a kind of promissory note that the future will have beauty too, and of a similar kind; without that promise, and the hope that comes with it, the beauty is cut off from the its source, and dies in under in my hands. Beauty cut off from a sense of hope in the future leads to anticipatory grief that I will inevitably lose this beautiful moment, and so this moment comes to feel tragic.


  3. ” in the distant woods or fields, in unpretending sprout-lands or pastures tracked by rabbits, even in a bleak and, to most, cheerless day, like this, when a villager would be thinking of his inn, I come to myself, I once more feel myself grandly related, and that cold and solitude are friends of mine. I suppose that this value, in my case, is equivalent to what others get by churchgoing and prayer. I come home to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home.”

    Henry David Thoreau


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