Thursday, October 9, 2014

Reason, Love, Life, and Choice

For my birthday in 2000, my father gave me one of his favorite books--the Collected Poems of Wendell Berry. I read it infrequently and slowly, but there is a lot of beauty in it. Here is an excerpt from his poem "The Design of a House", followed by one I wrote after coming home from my mission and remembering from before I left. It was a good, but emotional time. I share these now, on the occasion of my third son's birth.

The Design of a House

If reason was all, reason
would not exist--the will
to reason accounts for it;
it's not reason that chooses
to live; the seed doesn't swell
in its husk by reason, but loves
itself, obeys light which is
its own thought and agrues the leaf
in secret; love articulates
the choice of life in fact; life
chooses life because it is
alive; what lives didn't begin dead,
nor sun's fire commence in ember.

Love foresees a jointure
composing a house, a marriage
of contraries, compendium
of opposites in equilibrium.
This morning the sun
came up before the moon set;
shadows were stripped from the house
like burnt rags, the sky turning
blue behind the clear moon,
day and night moving to day.

Let severances be as dividing
budleaves around the flower
--woman and child enfolded, chosen.
It's a dying begun, not lightly,
the taking up of this love
whose legacy is its death.

I think I felt it. . .


I think I felt it then—
It stretched me every way
You can imagine when
It came, and as it lay
Within my breast, and filled
My mind with images
Of hope, and when it stilled
My heart with kindnesses.
Then it died as some would say.
I think it has just moved away
To some other place. And when
It will return we’ll hear again,
Overused, the phrase, “My how
You’ve grown."—I think I feel it now.

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