December 19th, 2009

Christmas, Advent

Advent 2009: VI

This is one of a series of poems written over a span of twenty years by the poet Wendell Berry. Every Sunday morning, he would walk through the countryside surrounding his home in north central Kentucky, composing in his head as he walked. This poem, like all his Sabbath Poems, were, Berry says, "written in silence, in solitude," and he suggests you will like them best if you read them the same way.


Remembering that it happened once,
We cannot turn away the thought,
As we go out, cold, to our barns
Toward the long night’s end, that we
Ourselves are living in the world
It happened in when it first happened,
That we ourselves, opening a stall
(A latch thrown open countless times
Before), might find them breathing there,
Foreknown, the Child bedded in straw,
The mother kneeling over Him,
The husband standing in belief
He can scarcely believe, in light
That lights them from no source we see,
An April morning’s light, the air
Around them joyful as a choir.
We stand with one hand on the door,
Looking into another world
That is this world, the pale daylight
Coming just as before, our chores
To do, the cattle all awake,
Our own white frozen breath hanging
In front of us; and we are here
As we have never been before,
Sighted as not before, our place
Holy, though we knew it not.

Wendell Berry (born 1934)

Previous Advent posts:

2003: Voices in the Mist
2004: The Nativity
2005: Space-Age Santa
2006: The Christians and the Pagans
2007: Merry Christmas
2008: Selections from The Joy of Christmas 2003

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