On This Day, A Mad Farmer Poem   4 comments

I returned shortly ago to the quiet apartment where I’m staying here in Portland for the holidays, entrusted to me by friends who are out of town for their own holiday celebrations. I came back to it tonight from a rowdy Christmas Eve spent with family. We exchanged presents and cracked innumerable jokes—many of them inappropriate—and ate so very much. It was not quite as conspicuous as past Christmas Eve celebrations have been, but it was conspicuous nonetheless. Yet it was nice, enjoyable, a fun gathering of family and a wide expression of good cheer. It was loud throughout, though, and coming back to this silent apartment is quite the contrast, inspiring some late-night reflection.

I received a few Wendell Berry books tonight as gifts, as well as a bevy of other beautiful and intriguing texts that I look forward to exploring. But coming home tonight—to my temporary home, this lovely gift from my friends—I couldn’t help but set aside my new books and pick up instead the hardcover edition of The Mad Farmer Poems, left out by my friends for me to peruse while staying here. I read the Author’s Note, the Foreword, the Introduction, the first couple poems, and soon came to a particular poem I’ve read before and have loved unconditionally, every time I read it. It’s a beautiful poem, a moving call to action, and if you find yourself caught in the craziness of Christmas and the holidays as I am finding myself to be, I think this is a poem to keep in your mind and heart. Read it, speak it aloud, know it, and hold it close on this day, and the days to come. For the Mad Farmer may just be the person best able to keep you sane in these odd times.

 

Manifesto: 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 millennium. 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 easy 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, 1973

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Posted December 25, 2011 by Joel Caris in Farming, Poetry

Tagged with , , , ,

4 responses to “On This Day, A Mad Farmer Poem

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  1. Yeah! Great poem with inspirational message to come back to our Earth, our Mother!!!

  2. Pingback: Resilience and Stealth Infrastructure « Of The Hands

  3. Pingback: Wendell Berry (and me) on Consumerism | Will Write for Food (and maybe dental)

  4. Pingback: Mad Consumers vs. One Mad Farmer: Goodwill Shopping and Wendell Berry | A Way With Words

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