The one that sings


The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have begun our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Wendell Berry
Standing by Words, Essays by Wendell Berry

Friends ask ‘do you really have a poem for pretty much any occasion?’

Two answers come quickly to mind: the first, that I’m not nearly well read enough for that to be true; the second, that I’m wary of the proposition – believing as I do that thoughtlessly ‘dishing out texts’ willy-nilly can lead to some pretty unhealthy outcomes.

Yet, for all that, there’s no getting around that I do look to poetry as guide, nourishment and sustenance almost every day. Sometimes this involves taking down books from shelves, and at others going down deep and in silence into the library of the soul.

Sometimes a poet’s message is clear, read or remembered, plain as a pikestaff – and that’s good, so long as I remember that next time I come to the same poem the experience – and the message – will be, probably ought to be, quite different, or at least a little more evolved.

At other times it’s a poem’s nuance that I’m attracted to. A certain open-endedness,  invitation to an abiding, to contemplation and / or reflection.

Poetry is always a gift for those who are lost, confused, unsure, unclear and perplexed (that’s to say, all of us at different times in our lives) because it brings us to a halt for a while, even if only for seconds, reminding us that we’re never in full possession of ‘answers’ to this world’s mysteries. Never were, are not, never could be.

And yet there is an enduring melody, a cantus firmus somewhere in the depths of us. In the place where we recognise

The mind that is not baffled is not employed,
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

And in the singing come to grow, if not to know. And today’s new work becomes clear. Here.