Aug. 5, 2001

A Timbered Choir

by Wendell Berry

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Poem: Section from A Timbered Choir, by Wendell Berry from The Sabbath Poems (Counterpoint).

A Timbered Choir

Raking hay on a rough slope,
when I was about sixteen,
I drove to the ridgetop and saw
in a neighbor's field on the other side
a pond in a swale, and around it
the whole field filled
with chicory in bloom, blue
as the sky reflected in the pond—
bluer even, and somehow lighter;
though they belonged to gravity.
They were the morning's
blossoms and would not last.
But I go back now in my mind
to when I drew the long windrow
to the top of the rise, and I see
the blue-flowered field, holding
in its center the sky-reflecting pond.
It seems, as then, another world
in this world, such as a pilgrim
might travel days and years
to find, and find at last
on the morning of his return
by his mere being at home
awake—a moment seen, forever known.

It's the birthday of writer Wendell Berry, born in 1934, in Henry County in north-central Kentucky, northeast of Louisville. After teaching at Stanford and in New York, he went back in 1964 to farm and write in the hill country along the Kentucky River where he was born.

It's the birthday in Savannah, Georgia, 1889, of poet Conrad Aiken.

It is the birthday today of Guy de Maupassant, 1850, Dieppe, France. He was taken under the wing of novelist Gustave Flaubert, and went on to become France's greatest writer of short stories. In the 1880s, Moupassant wrote 300 short stories, six novels, travel books, verse, and journalism.

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