RSS Feed

The Wild Geese

Wendell Berry is a great poet and writer. Several contributors to one of the texts we use in Eco-Ethics , Rethinking Nature, refer to his thinking. I call it deep thinking and takes us to another level of consciousness where there is an awareness that we are part of something much bigger.

I read Wendell Berry’s work and enjoy it immensely. He does not suggest I think like he does or live like he does in a low-tech world. What he proposes is I take time and think more deeply. I read somewhere that Berry, when he was much younger during the 1960’s was asked to write an anti-Vietnam War poem. He responded that he would not. The person asking was surprised as they had always believed he was opposed to the Vietnam War. He responded by saying he was not opposed to that particular war, just war in general. He wrote an anti-war poem with no reference to Vietnam. When I take time and engage in thinking at this level, I come to a different level of awareness than I usually do. It does not mean that I would things differently than I currently do. I become aware of the values I hold and act accordingly. Obviously, it is tricky. What if my values sanction war? What if my values sanction a view that nature is for human consumption? I think what Berry and others get is when we go deeper and look inside we see that we live in the world and not outside it as spectators.

When I read a poem like The Wild Geese, I am struck by the message of the last line: “What we need is here.” It likely always was. I need to open the persimmon seed to find the tree which is not separate from the seed. I am not separate from daily life or the world. I am in it. I need to go deeper to find it, recognize it, and cherish it.

Horseback on Sunday morning,

harvest over, we taste persimmon

and wild grape, sharp sweet

of summer’s end. In time’s maze

over fall fields, we name names

that went west from here, names

that rest on graves. We open

a persimmon seed

to find the tree that stands in promise,

pale, in the seed’s marrow.

Geese appear high over us,

pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,

as in love or sleep, holds

them in their way, clear,

in the ancient faith: what we need

is here. And we pray, no

for the new earth or heaven, but to be

quiet in the heart, and in eye

clear. What we need is here.


About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

15 responses »

  1. Have long enjoyed that Mary Oliver poem. Your piece is a wonderful continuation of hers.

  2. I agree about the line “And what we need is here.” And I like how it is preceded, that we need a clear eye and quiet heart, not a new earth or heaven.
    I really wonder, how would our world be if each child was taught this simple message. That what we need is here.
    Thank you! I was not aware of this poem before!

  3. wonderful poem and interesting article. Thank you for sharing. groetjes, Francina

  4. Beautiful truth. Thank you for posting this.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: