How to be a poet (to remind myself): a poem by Wendell Berry

First, may I say that to be a poet doesn’t require an English literature degree, an A in English, a fancy way with words or any external designation. There are poets everywhere, and poems everywhere, waiting to be discovered, plucked from a laden tree, picked up from a rocky shore, or to snag you like a burr as you’re busily on your way somewhere else. That’s the spirit in which I offer this lovely piece from Wendell berry. Even if you get no further than the first 2 lines (which often happens with me and reading poetry), it’s worth it. Just do that. And if you make it deeper… if you are able to slow down enough to muscle through the first verse and part way through the second, may I underline this:

There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Which feels, to me, like everything.

There are no unsacred places or beings. There are some sacred ones who haven’t been treated that way. May healing be visited upon them (us) all, upon all these places, within us and around us.

Photo by Yu-chuan Hsu on Unsplash

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 poems,
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.

Wendell Berry

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