Morning Trip (314)

“There is not only peacefulness, there is joy. And the joy, less deniable in its evidence than the peacefulness, is the confirmation of it. I sat one summer evening and watched a great blue heron make his descent from the top of the hill into the valley. He came down at a measured deliberate pace, stately as always, like a dignitary going down a stair. And then, at a point I judged to be midway over the river, without at all varying his wingbeat he did a backward turn in the air, a loop-the-loop. It could only have been a gesture of pure exuberance, of joy — a speaking of his sense of the evening, the day’s fulfillment, his descent homeward. He made just that one slow turn, and then flew on out of sight in the direction of the slew farther down in the bottom. The movement was incredibly beautiful, at once exultant and stately, a benediction on the evening and on the river and on me. It seemed so perfectly to confirm the presence of a free nonhuman joy in the world.”
–Wendell Berry

Morning Trip (110)

“XII.

If we have become a people incapable
of thought, then the brute-thought
of mere power and mere greed
will think for us.

IF we have become incapable
of denying ourselves anything,
then all that we have
will be taken from us.

If we have no compassion,
we will suffer alone, we will suffer
alone the destruction of ourselves.

These are merely the laws of this world
as known to Shakespeare, as known to Milton:

When we cease from human thought,
a low and effective cunning
stirs in the most inhuman minds.”

–Wendell Berry, Leavings: Part Two–Sabbaths 2005

Morning Trip (109) and Syria, Do Humans Ever Learn? –or, no no but my phallus is bigger than yours

“And so our Civil War raised questions that have been raised a number of times since: Can you force people to change their hearts and minds? Can you make them good by violence? Again and again human nature has replied no. Again and again, ignoring human nature and history, politicians have answered yes. And yet it seems true that Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers, by refusing to answer violence with violence, did more to alter racial attitudes in the South than was done by all the death and damage of the Civil War.”
–Wendell Berry, imagination in place

Morning Trip (107)

A Warning To My Readers

Do not think me gentle
because I speak in praise
of gentleness, or elegant
because I honor the grace
that keeps this world. I am
a man crude as any,
gross of speech, intolerant,
stubborn, angry, full
of fits and furies. That I
may have spoken well
at times, is not natural.
A wonder is what it is.”
–Wendell Berry

Morning Trip (105)

“…Going down stone by stone,

the song of the water changes,

changing the way I walk

which changes my thought

as I go. Stone to stone

the stream flows. Stone to stone

the walker goes. The words

stand stone still until

the flow moves them, changing

the sound – a new word –

a new place to step or stand….”

–Wendell Berry, Excerpt from The Book of Camp Branch, out of Leavings

Morning Trip (97)

“A man is walking in a field
and everywhere at his feet
in the short grass of April
the small purple violets
are in bloom. As the man walks
the ground drops away,
the sunlight of day becomes
a sort of darkness in which
the lights of the flowers rise
up around him like
fireflies or stars in a sort
of sky through which he walks.”
– Wendell Berry, IV Leavings