A Sunday Poem – Wendell Berry on Hope

At least, I hope that Wendell Berry is writing about hope in this poem, because otherwise it feels as though life might be pretty useless. So I’m going to cling to the few sentences of hope that I see in this poem because it’s been another gut-wrenching week all around.

Here by the road where people are carried, with
or against their will, as on a river of burning oil
through a time already half consumed, how
shall we pray to escape the catastrophe
that we have not the vision to oppose and have
therefore deserved, and that many have desired?

Yet here in our moment in the ages of ages
amid the icons of fire from the maddened center
whirling out, we pray to be delivered from the blaze
that we have earned, that many desire. We pray
that the continent of love may be shaped within
the continent of power, here by the river of fire.

We pray for vision, though we die, to see
in our small imperfect love the Love of the ages
of ages, whose green tree yet stands amid the flames. May we
be as a song sung within the tree, though beside us
the river of oil flows, burning, and the sky is filled
with the whine of desire to burn and be burned in the fire.

This poem was published in Wendell Berry’s This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems.

This week I pray to be able to slow my heart down, still my heart, stay present in my home. To find the happy moments that will beat back the tears. To fill my home with beauty and trust (in what?) that all will be well. I wish the same for you.


5 thoughts on “A Sunday Poem – Wendell Berry on Hope

Add yours

    1. Okay, good. I’m glad that others agree that this is about hope, because I’m hopeLESS when it comes to poetry!!

      The green tree stands AND the birds keep singing. That’s a good thing! 😉


  1. This really feels like it could have been written very recently, in the midst of the current crises, but I do get a very strong sense of hope from it. I think it’s an important reminder to not give up the fight.

    Liked by 1 person

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