At start of spring I open a trench
in the ground. I put into it
the winter’s accumulation of paper,
pages I do not want to read
again, useless words, fragments,
errors. And I put into it
the contents of the outhouse:
light of the sun, growth of the ground,
finished with one of their journeys.
To the sky, to the wind, then,
and to the faithful trees, I confess
my sins: that I have not been happy
enough, considering my good luck;
have listened to too much noise;
have been inattentive to wonders;
have lusted after praise.
And then upon the gathered refuse
of mind and body, I close the trench,
folding shut again the dark,
the deathless earth. Beneath that seal
the old escapes into the new.
New Collected Poems, page 233
I’ve just written a note to a friend about appreciation of the year’s seasons and in the act of doing so came to wonder if others have experienced the way a particular book within a bookcase can suddenly catch the light and call one to open its pages? Like synapses in the brain and the corridors of the mind lead us to re-collection, of stored information, and to our senses. So, for me, tonight.
And what a sane man the farming poet Wendell Berry appears always to me to be – one who understands seasons, and planting, and metaphor, and actions, each having purpose and proper place. We all gather material we “do not want to read again”. How great a grace it is that warms us “at start of Spring”, encouraging examen, inner consideration of our place within the outer world, and the willing handing over to the earthy processes of death and resurrection that enable our continued becoming: metamorphosis – “the old escapes into the new”.