Poem of the Month: April

“To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.”
— Robert Frost

“To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.”

— Robert Frost

Believe it or not, Wendell Berry is a new discovery for me. About two years ago, I finally found “The Peace of Wild Things,” one of the most beautiful and calming poems I’ve read. I turn to it often when trying to make sense of the world. In celebration of National Poetry month, Berry’s “How to Be a Poet” eloquently describes how to be just that—a poet. His last verse describes, for me, what it is like to write poetry. If you would like to hear Berry’s reading of this poem, click here.

 

How to Be a Poet (to remind myself)

by Wendell Berry

i

Make a place to sit down.

Sit down. Be quiet.

You must depend upon

affection, reading, knowledge,

skill — more of each

than you have — inspiration,

work, growing older, patience,

for patience joins time

to eternity. Any readers

who like your poems,

doubt their judgment.

 

ii

Breathe with unconditional breath

the unconditioned air.

Shun electric wire.

Communicate slowly. Live

a three-dimensioned life;

stay away from screens.

Stay away from anything

that obscures the place it is in.

There are no unsacred places;

there are only sacred places

and desecrated places.

 

iii

Accept what comes from silence.

Make the best you can of it.

Of the little words that come

out of the silence, like prayers

prayed back to the one who prays,

make a poem that does not disturb

the silence from which it came.

 

 

 

(Illustration found here.)

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