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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Wendell Berry Poem

Air Date: Week of

Farmer and writer Wendell Berry reads his poem, "A Vision," from his most recent publication, The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. The last in a series of his poetry readings on Living On Earth, this poem offers a hopeful look at humanity's future.


CURWOOD: Poet and writer Wendell Berry considers humanity's future in his poem called "A Vision." It's from his most recent publication, The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry.

BERRY: If we will have the wisdom to survive, To stand like slow-growing trees on a ruined place, Renewing, enriching it, If we will make our seasons welcome here, Asking not too much of earth or heaven, Then a long time after we are dead, The lives our lives prepare will live here, Their houses strongly placed upon the valley's sides, Fields and gardens rich in the windows. The river will run clear, as we will never know it, And over it, bird song like a canopy. On the levels of the hills will be green meadows, Stalk bells in noon shade. On the steeps where greed and ignorance Cut down the old forest An old forest will stand, Its rich leaf fall drifting on its roots. The veins of forgotten springs will have opened. Families will be singing in the fields. In their voices they will hear a music Risen out of the ground. They will take nothing from the ground they will not return, Whatever the grief at parting. Memory native to this valley Will spread over it like a grove, And memory will grow into legend, Legend into song, Song into sacrament. The abundance of this place, The songs of its people and its birds Will be health and wisdom and in-dwelling light. This is no paradisal dream. Its hardship is its possibility.

(Music up and under)

CURWOOD: That was Wendell Berry. "A Vision" was part of an occasional series of poems on Living on Earth.



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