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Manifesto: Mad Farmer Liberation Front by Wendell Berry

June 11, 2010


I saw this on Brian Zahnd’s
blog yesterday. Then I spent part of an Amazon gift card on a book of his poetry. I love this.

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.

I love, “When they want you to buy something they will call you,” and the stanza about sequoias.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 11, 2010 9:31 am

    Wendell Berry is one of my favorite authors. I’m not as into his poetry, but his novel Jayber Crow is one of my favs.

    I also love that he’s a total Luddite, doing his writing sans computer.

    • Lex permalink
      June 11, 2010 10:33 am

      Thanks for the unintentional recommendation. When I started looking him up I was a little overwhelmed at how much he’s written. Maybe Jayber Crow is a good place to start, then. :)

  2. bianca permalink
    June 11, 2010 9:49 am

    Very very cool. I like the stanza after the sequoias. The comments about considering the future are dear to me and the question about women is intriguing. Not entirely sure I get it, admittedly, but I like it. Thank you for sharing! Hopefully we can share interpretations soon :-]

  3. June 14, 2010 4:48 pm

    dude. seriously. wendell berry is the man. i first discovered him via my philosophy professor in grand rapids, michigan – and then reintroduced myself to his poetry beginning in 2005; then it was on to one of the most poignant and brilliant collections of his essays: sex, economy, and freedom; and then i took to the plunge into his novels, beginning with hannah coulter – amazing.

    anyways. such a wealth of knowledge and creativity in that man and his works. i definitely encourage more wendell berry for everybody! haha.

    • Lex permalink
      June 15, 2010 10:25 am

      I’m starting to wonder why no one told me about the guy before. :) And getting really anxious for my book to arrive!

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