Friday, August 20, 2010


Wendell Berry reflects on the violence of killing others as a perpetuated acceptable human value

This is one of Wendell Berry's "Sabbaths" poems in his most recent collection, "Leavings."

They gather like an ancestry
in the centuries behind us:
the killed by violence, the dead
in war, the "acceptable losses" --
killed by custom in self-defense,
by way of correction, in revenge,
for love of God, for the glory
of the world, for peace; killed
for pride, lust, envy, anger,
covetousness, gluttony, sloth,
and fun. The strewn carcasses
cease to feed even the flies,
the stench passes from them,
the earth folds in the bones
like salt in a batter.

And we have learned
nothing. "Love your enemies,
bless them that curse you,
do good to them that hate you"--
it goes on regardless, reasonably:
the always uncompleted
symmetry of just reprisal,
the angry word, the boast
of superior righteousness,
hate in Christ's name,
scorn for the dead, lies
for the honor of the nation,
centuries bloodied and dismembered
for ideas, for ideals,
for the love of God!

In the spirit of dialog, I welcome comments and/or questions. Click on "responses" below to post. They're moderated only to reduce incivility.


  1. Anonymous12:23 PM

    my husband, peter, will be pouring his wines in zionsville on saturday at the grape vine cottage...2:30-5:30. have you ever been to zionsville? his father and sister live in the area. i love indiana, though i grew up in so. illinois. my husband is also into biking. he has three bikes that were made for him by a friend, michael o' seattle. michael makes bikes for a living and also helps with our wine harvest.

  2. Anonymous7:12 PM

    oh, i forgot to say that peter grew up in indiana and went to purdue...a real hoosier.


Your tasteful comments and/or questions are welcome. Posts are moderated only to reduce a few instances of incivility.