Thursday, May 01, 2008
Mad Farmer Liberation Front
This Wendell Berry poem was read the other night at Wicker Park Grace and I thought it just spoke so much truth.

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 millenium. 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.
posted by Mike Clawson at 11:57 AM | Permalink |


At 5/01/2008 02:28:00 PM, Anonymous Karl

I tried to use that poem - my favorite of Berry's - in a Sunday school class at a conservative uber-reformed church back in the late 90's. Went over like a lead balloon, but the son of one of the elders loved it and became a huge Berry fan. My wife and I ended up spending a lot of time with him, trying to help him see that there were other ways of being Christian that didn't look like what he had known up to that point - because if what he had known was the only option he was outta there.

Berry is great. His perspecitve is so unique that he's an equal opportuniity offender of both the left and the right; he comes from a different paradigm altogether. I used to like his nonfiction the most, but now I'd have to say his novels and short stories are my favorite of his work.


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