Monday, January 13, 2014

Wendell Berry: "How to Be a Poet"


(to remind myself)


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 work,
doubt their judgment.


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.


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.

"How to Be a Poet" by Wendell Berry. Published in Poetry (January 2001). 

Photography credit: Untitled image by unknown photographer, found at this link (originally color).



  1. The best lesson on the craft I've ever read. Likely the only one needed.

    1. And a lesson on the craft of living in general, to my thinking! Happy New Year, Ralph!


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