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Poem In Your Pocket Day

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Contrariness Of The Mad Farmer

    I am done with apologies. If contrariness is my
    inheritance and destiny, so be it. If it is my mission
    to go in at exits and come out at entrances, so be it.
    I have planted by the stars in defiance of the experts,
    and tilled somewhat by incantation and by singing,
    and reaped, as I knew, by luck and Heaven’s favor,
    in spite of the best advice. If I have been caught
    so often laughing at funerals, that was because
    I knew the dead were already slipping away,
    preparing a comeback, and can I help it?
    And if at weddings I have gritted and gnashed
    my teeth, it was because I knew where the bridegroom
    had sunk his manhood, and knew it would not
    be resurrected by a piece of cake. “Dance” they told me,
    and I stood still, and while they stood
    quiet in line at the gate of the Kingdom, I danced.
    “Pray” they said, and I laughed, covering myself
    in the earth’s brightnesses, and then stole off gray
    into the midst of a revel, and prayed like an orphan.
    When they said “I know that my Redeemer liveth,”
    I told them “He’s dead.” And when they told me
    “God is dead,” I answered “He goes fishing every day
    in the Kentucky River. I see Him often.”
    When they asked me would I like to contribute
    I said no, and when they had collected
    more than they needed, I gave them as much as I had.
    When they asked me to join them I wouldn’t,
    and then went off by myself and did more
    than they would have asked. “Well, then” they said
    “go and organize the International Brotherhood
    of Contraries,” and I said “Did you finish killing
    everybody who was against peace?” So be it.
    Going against men, I have heard at times a deep harmony
    thrumming in the mixture, and when they ask me what
    I say I don’t know. It is not the only or the easiest
    way to come to the truth. It is one way.

Wendell Berry

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