the contrariness of a mad farmer

I am done with apologies.  If contrariness is my

inheritance and destiny, so be it.  If it is my mission

to go at exits and come out at entrances, so be it.

I have planted by the stars in defiance of the experts,

and tilled somewhat by incantation and by singing,

and reaped, as I knew, by luck and Heaven’s favor,

in spite of the best advice.  If I have been caught

so often laughing at funerals, that was because

I knew the dead were already slipping away,

preparing for a comeback, and can I help it?

And if at wedding I have gritted and gnashed

my teeth, it was because I knew where the bridegroom

had sunk his manhood, and knew it would not

be resurrected by a piece of cake. “Dance” they told me

and I stood still, and while they stood

quiet in line at the gate of the Kingdom, I danced.

“Pray” they said, and I laughed, covering myself

in the earth’s brightness, and then stole off gray

into the midst of a revel, and prayed like an orphan

When they said “I know that my Redeemer liveth,”

I told them, “He’d dead.”  And when they told me

“God is dead,” I answered “He goes fishing every day

in the Kentucky River. I see him often.”

When they asked me would I like to contribute

I said no, and when they had collected

more than they needed, I gave them as much as I had.

When they asked me join them I wouldn’t

and then went off by myself and did more

than they would have asked.  “Well, then,” they said

“go and organize the International Brotherhood

of Contraries,”  I said “Did you finish killing

everybody who was against peace?”  So be it.

Going against men, I have heard at times a deep harmony

thrumming in the mixture, and when they ask me what

I say I don’t know.  It is not the only or the easiest

way to come to the truth.  It is the one way.

—–Wendell Berry, from Farming: A Hand Book

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