There’s Something: Adam Small

You can stop me
drinking a pepsi-cola
at the café
in the Avenue
or goin’ to
an Alhambra revue,
you can stop me doin’
some silly thing like that
but o
there’s somethin’ you can
never never do;
you can stop me boarding a carriage
on the Bellville run
white class
or sittin’ in front
of the X-line
on the Hout Bay bus,

you can stop me doin’
some silly thing like that
but o
there’s somethin’ you can
never never do;
you can stop me
goin’ to Grootte Schuur
in the same ambulance
as you
or tryin’ to go to heaven
from a Groote Kerk pew
you can stop me doin’
some silly thing like that
but o
there’s something you can
never never do;
true’s God
you can stop me doin’
all silly things of that sort
and to think of it
if it comes to that
you can even stop me hatin’
but o
there’s somethin’ you can
never never do –
you can’t
ever
ever
ever stop me
loving
even you!

Adam Small

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The Way of Pain: Wendell Berry

The Way of Pain

1.
For parents, the only way
is hard. We who give life
give pain. There is no help.
Yet we who give pain
give love; by pain we learn
the extremity of love.

2.
I read of Abraham’s sacrifice
the Voice required of him,
so that he led to the altar
and the knife his only son.
The beloved life was spared
that time, but not the pain.
It was the pain that was required.

3.
I read of Christ crucified,
the only begotten Son
sacrificed to flesh and time
and all our woe. He died
and rose, but who does not tremble
for his pain, his loneliness,
and the darkness of the sixth hour?
Unless we grieve like Mary
at His grace, giving Him up
as lost, no Easter morning comes.

4.
And then I slept, and dreamed
the life of my only son
was required of me, and I
must bring him to the edge
of pain, not knowing why.
I woke, and yet that pain
was true. It brought his life
to the full in me. I bore him
suffering, with love like the sun,
too bright, unsparing, whole.

Wendell Berry

Duality: Wendell Berry


Duality

So God created man in his
own image, in the image of God
created he him; male and female
created he them.

I
To love is to suffer – did I
know this when first
I asked you for your love?
I did not. And yet until
I knew, I could not know what
I asked, or gave. I gave
a suffering that I took: yours
and mine, mine when yours;
and yours I have feared most.

II
What can bring us past
this knowledge, so that you
will never wish our life
undone? For if ever you
wish it so, then I must wish
so too, and lovers yet unborn,
whom we are reaching toward
with love, will turn to this
page, and find it blank.

III
I have feared to be unknown
and to offend – I must speak,
then, against the dread
of speech. What if, hearing,
you have no reply, and mind’s
despair annul the body’s hope?
Life in time may justify
any conclusion, whenever
our will is to conclude.

IV
Look at me now. Now,
after all the years, look at me
who have no beauty apart
from what we two have been
and made. Look at me
with the look that anger
and pain have taught you,
the gaze in which nothing
is guarded, nothing withheld.

V
You look at me, you give
a light, which I bear and return,
and we are held, and all
our time is held, in this
touching look – this touch
that, pressed against the touch
returning in the dark,
is almost sight. We burn
and see by our own light.

VI
Eyes looking into eyes looking
into eyes, touches that see
in the dark, remember Paradise,
our true home. God’s image
recalls us to Itself. We move
with motion not our own,
light upon light, day and
night, sway as two trees
in the same wind sway.

VII
Let us come to no conclusion,
but let our bodies burn
in time’s timelessness. Heaven
and earth give us to this night
in which we tell each other of
a Kingdom yet to come, saying
its secret, its silent names.
We become fleshed words, one
another’s uttered joy.

VIII
Joined in our mortal motion,
we come to the resurrection
of words; they rise up
in our mouths, set free
of taints, errors, and bad luck.
In their new clarities
the leaf brightens, the air
clears, the syllables of water are
clear in the dark air as stars.

IX
We come, unsighted, in the dark,
to the great feast of lovers
where nothing is withheld.
That we are there we know
by touch, by inner sight.
They all are here, who by
their giving take, by taking
give, who by their living
love, and by loving live.

Wendell Berry

Follower: Cathal (Charles) Lagan


FOLLOWER

Mary of Magdala, the words spin easily off the tongue,
was seven times torn within, had no centre
from which the flag of self could fly: it was
in tatters Jesus found her, before he dealt
with seven demons and made way for her life.
And so it was she simply followed him,
God’s gosling taking to the air. She was
the night walker of the Song of Songs, searching
for him in the morning darkness,
and finding Him was the first to proclaim Him
to the frightened patriarchy, and continues still
today to ruffle starched minds embarrassed
by what great love gets up to next.

Cathal (Charles) Lagan

The Country of Marriage: Wendell Berry


The Country Of Marriage

I.

I dream of you walking at night along the streams
of the country of my birth, warm blooms and the nightsongs
of birds opening around you as you walk.
You are holding in your body the dark seed of my sleep.

II.

This comes after silence. Was it something I said
that bound me to you, some mere promise
or, worse, the fear of loneliness and death?
A man lost in the woods in the dark, I stood
still and said nothing. And then there rose in me,
like the earth’s empowering brew rising
in root and branch, the words of a dream of you
I did not know I had dreamed. I was a wanderer
who feels the solace of his native land
under his feet again and moving in his blood.
I went on, blind and faithful. Where I stepped
my track was there to steady me. It was no abyss
that lay before me, but only the level ground.

III.

Sometimes our life reminds me
of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
and in that opening a house,
an orchard and garden,
comfortable shades, and flowers
red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
made in the light for the light to return to.
The forest is mostly dark, its ways
to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed,
provided we stay brave
enough to keep on going in.

IV.

How many times have I come to you out of my head
with joy, if ever a man was,
for to approach you I have given up the light
and all directions. I come to you
lost, wholly trusting as a man who goes
into the forest unarmed. It is as though I descend
slowly earthward out of the air. I rest in peace
in you, when I arrive at last.

V.

Our bond is no little economy based on the exchange
of my love and work for yours, so much for so much
of an expendable fund. We don’t know what its limits are–
that puts us in the dark. We are more together
than we know, how else could we keep on discovering
we are more together than we thought?
You are the known way leading always to the unknown,
and you are the known place to which the unknown is always
leading me back. More blessed in you than I know,
I possess nothing worthy to give you, nothing
not belittled by my saying that I possess it.
Even an hour of love is a moral predicament, a blessing
a man may be hard up to be worthy of. He can only
accept it, as a plant accepts from all the bounty of the light
enough to live, and then accepts the dark,
passing unencumbered back to the earth, as I
have fallen time and again from the great strength
of my desire, helpless, into your arms.

VI.

What I am learning to give you is my death
to set you free of me, and me from myself
into the dark and the new light. Like the water
of a deep stream, love is always too much. We
did not make it. Though we drink till we burst
we cannot have it all, or want it all.
In its abundance it survives our thirst.
In the evening we come down to the shore
to drink our fill, and sleep, while it
flows through the regions of the dark.
It does not hold us, except we keep returning
to its rich waters thirsty. We enter,
willing to die, into the commonwealth of its joy.

VII.

I give you what is unbounded, passing from dark to dark,
containing darkness: a night of rain, an early morning.
I give you the life I have let live for the love of you:
a clump of orange-blooming weeds beside the road,
the young orchard waiting in the snow, our own life
that we have planted in the ground, as I
have planted mine in you. I give you my love for all
beautiful and honest women that you gather to yourself
again and again, and satisfy–and this poem,
no more mine than any man’s who has loved a woman.

Wendell Berry