Monday, April 4, 2011

A TIMBERED CHOIR

This is the poem for which Wendell Berry's beloved collection of Sabbaths poems is named

Though I think the trees and woods Wendell Berry is referring to in this poem may be located near his farm in northern Kentucky, I imagine the giant, ancient sequoias I just witnessed in Yosemite National Park in California. Walking among them made an indelible impression on me.  In the shadow of their might, I recalled Berry's poem and sing it with him anew.

Slowly, slowly, they return
To the small woodland let alone;
Great trees, outspreading and upright,
Apostles of the living light.

Patient as stars, they build in air
Tier after tier a timbered choir,
Stout beams upholding weightless grace
Of song, a blessing on this place.

They stand in waiting all around,
Uprisings of their native ground,
Downcomings of the distant light;
They are the advent they await.

Receiving sun and giving shade,
Their life's a benefaction made,
And is a benediction said
Over the living and the dead.

In fall their brightened leaves, released,
Fly down the wind, and we are pleased
To walk on radiance, amazed.
O light come down to earth, be praised!

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