To moralize the state, they drag out a man,
and bind his hands, and darken his eyes
with a black rag to be free of the light in them,
and tie him to a post, and kill him.
And I am sickened by complicity in my race.
To kill in hot savagery like a beast
is understandable. It is forgivable and curable.
But to kill by design, deliberately, and without wrath,
that is the sullen labor that perfects Hell.
The serpent is gentle, compared to man.
It is man, the inventor of cold violence,
death as waste, who has made himself lonely
among the creatures, and set himself aside
from creation, so that he cannot labor
in the light of the sun with hope,
or sit at peace in the shade of any tree.
The morning's news drives sleep out of the head
at night. Uselessness and horror hold the eyes
open to the dark. Weary, we lie awake
in the agony of the old giving birth to the new
without assurance that the new will be better.
I look at my son, whose eyes are like a young god's,
they are so open to the world.
I look at my sloping fields now turning
green with the young grass of April. What must I do
to go free? I think I must put on
a deathlier knowledge, and prepare to die
rather than enter into the design of man's hate.
I will purge my mind of the airy claims
of church and state, and observe the ancient wisdom
of tribesman and peasant, who understood
they labored on the earth only to lie down in it
in peace, and were content. I will serve the earth
and not pretend my life could be better served.
My life is only the earth risen up
a little way into the light, among the leaves.
Another morning comes with its strange cure.
The earth is news. Though the river floods
and the spring is cold, my heart goes on,
faithful to a mystery in a cloud,
and the summer's garden continues its decent
through me, toward the ground.
-Wendell Berry, from Farming: A Handbook