The Wild Geese

by Wendell Berry


Original Language English

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

-- from Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, by Wendell Berry

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

This morning, the calls of migrating geese served as my alarm clock. I live about a mile away from a large lake, a favorite stop for black-necked Canadian geese following their ancient roads inscribed in the winter sky. It is total self-abandonment that launches them into the air, and draws them, each season, on their heroic odyssey. In their flight, north and south, they stitch the world together, weaving their ancient patterns upon the planet.

If we are quiet and see, we recognize in their flight something of the eternal reflected back to us. Not in a new earth or new heaven, but in our renewed vision do we finally discover what we ourselves ache for. And then we too have found our way home.

And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.



Recommended Books: Wendell Berry

The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1957-1982
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Selected Poems of Wendell Berry
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Given: Poems
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A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997
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The Mad Farmer Poems
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The Wild Geese