Jun 06 2012

Wendell Berry – Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Published by at 8:28 am under Poetry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

— from The Mad Farmer Poems, by Wendell Berry


/ Photo by legends2k /

A manifesto from the fields and the topsoil today. A reminder of what’s real. A reminder to regularly push that mental reset button. A reminder to remain a healthy, cantankerous human standing amidst wonders…

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it.

Practice resurrection.

Have a beautiful day!






Wendell Berry, Wendell Berry poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Wendell Berry

US (1934 – )
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by Wendell Berry

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Wendell Berry – Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”

  1. rena navonon 06 Jun 2012 at 12:13 pm

    What no responses yet? Who can resist such a passionate, moving piece of mad refusal to remain bound to mediocrity? Wendell Berry sounds like no hero as he goes through the list of empty motions he is willing to renounce in his spontaneous quest for more meaning in life.
    An unassuming practitioner of simple activities, he digs right in up to his elbows into what he understands as the choices of the good soul as opposed to the cop-out of making good impressions. This poem that seems to flow like easy water from his busy work sleeve must have much more behind it than he has need to show, for his urge to pass on his message is strong and his message sincere and he wants to get on with it on the spot. Now!
    I thank you for such an impressive piece of writing, Ivan. This author is true, as are you.

  2. Carol Burnson 06 Jun 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Thank you, Ivan. Wendell Berry is almost a neighbor (almost, smile) and I love his
    writing. Had never heard this poem yet, and yes it is powerful. I will try to practice
    resurrection every day! So good to be reminded of what is important.

  3. marrobon 06 Jun 2012 at 4:04 pm

    You’re so right rena navon. This one merits a response that just comes gurgling up,
    spiralling up through the body & ripples outward through the whole being and beyond….like a spontaneous belly laugh.

    And it’s such a sound healthy, rebellious antidote to the grim reaping nightly
    news. Makes me feel like doing something that doesn’t compute….like toss the remote across the room…or even further!

    Once more, thanks Ivan for planting the sequoias of sacred, ‘kick butt if you have to’
    and resurrecting truth.

  4. gurjiton 06 Jun 2012 at 10:37 pm

    gr8 and excellent

  5. christian michaelson 07 Jun 2012 at 6:25 am

    Thomas Jefferson would embrace Berry and correspond enthusiastically over the years with great delight, I’m sure.

    The revolution that is required to keep freedom alive must take place within every person daily or the whole becomes bound in the chains of political correctness that kills from within like a cancer.

    If you want freedom, change yourself. That’s my take on it. It will never come to those who strive to change others.

    Namaste;

  6. bharation 09 Jun 2012 at 1:23 am

    this is an amazingly inspiring poem revealing one whose inner and outer senses are awake and balanced.

    …and hear the faint chattering
    of the songs that are to come…

    i wonder if we could explore the words i have quoted above. Each day, about 90 mins before daybreak, a spurt of fine energy seems to pour into the planet. It sounds like a million birds chirping just beyond the horizon. A ‘morning chorus’ yet to come… ???

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply