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Look Out by Wendell Berry

    Come to the window, look out, and see
    the valley turning green in remembrance
    of all springs past and to come, the woods
    perfecting with immortal patience
    the leaves that are the work of all of time,
    the sycamore whose white limbs shed
    the history of a man's life with their old bark,
    the river quivering under the morning's breath
    like the touched skin of a horse, and you will see
    also the shadow cast upon it by fire, the war
    that lights its way by burning the earth.

    Come to your windows, people of the world,
    look out at whatever you see wherever you are,
    and you will see dancing upon it that shadow.
    You will see that your place, wherever it is,
    your house, your garden, your shop, your forest, your farm,
    bears the shadow of its destruction by war
    which is the economy of greed which is plunder
    which is the economy of wrath which is fire.
    The Lords of War sell the earth to buy fire,
    they sell the water and air of life to buy fire.
    They are little men grown great by willingness
    to drive whatever exists into its perfect absence.
    Their intention to destroy any place is solidly founded
    upon their willingness to destroy every place.

    Every household of the world is at their mercy,
    the households of the farmer and the otter and the owl
    are at their mercy. They have no mercy.
    Having hate, they can have no mercy.
    Their greed is the hatred of mercy.
    Their pockets jingle with the small change of the poor.
    Their power is the willingness to destroy
    everything for knowledge which is money
    which is power which is victory
    which is ashes sown by the wind.

    Leave your windows and go out, people of the world,
    go into the streets, go into the fields, go into the woods
    and along the streams. Go together, go alone.
    Say no to the Lords of War which is Money
    which is Fire. Say no by saying yes
    to the air, to the earth, to the trees,
    yes to the grasses, to the rivers, to the birds
    and the animals and every living thing, yes
    to the small houses, yes to the children. Yes.  

Wendell Berry is a writer and a farmer in Port Royal, Kentucky. His latest novel is "Hannah Coulter," and the poem on this page is from "Given," his upcoming collection of poems.

5 Responses

  1. […] Berry and there’s a line from it that’s still reverberating.   I will spare you the entire poem but this is the last […]

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