Sunday, January 2, 2011

Poetry for the New Year

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front***

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

-- Wendell Berry

***thanks to the potwatcher for turning me on to this poem, along with numerous delicious recipes


  1. I love this poem. Thanks Elizabeth and Happy New Year.

    Christmas vacation is almost over:)

  2. This may be my favorite poem ever and you gave it to me. Thank-you. I think I have done some of these things and thus, I feel a little prouder of myself today.
    I have not planted sequoias, but I have planted live oaks. I have certainly loved people whom to me were infinitely worth loving but maybe not to society. I work for nothing all the time. That is what I work for, in fact. I always do things that do not compute. I COMPUTE what does not compute.
    And more.
    Oh, Elizabeth, thank-you. And to potwatcher too.
    Thank-you, always but today for this.

  3. Oh, I love this one. Thank you for this gift for the new year!

  4. I read this somewhere not too long ago..
    and just gasped with love and my yes yes yes.

    Then I actually went to Potwatcher for the first time today...and saw it

    and it's wonderfully fitting to see it here.

    We should all know it and have it posted up somewhere and live it.

  5. I hadn't read this before but wow, I loved it. Thanks for sharing :) Jen

  6. wonderful. we all need more wendell. -thepotwatcher



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