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Leavings - from Wendell Berry

IV

from Leavings

by Wendell Berry (2007)

  • In our consciousness of time
  • we are doomed to the past.
  • The future we may dream of
  • but can know it only after
  • it has come and gone.
  • The present too we know
  • only as the past. When
  • we say, "This now is
  • present, the heat, the breeze,
  • the rippling water," it is past.
  • Before we knew it, before
  • we said "now," it was gone.
  • If the only time we live
  • is the present, and if the present
  • is immeasurably short (or
  • long), then by the measure
  • of the measurers we don't
  • exist at all, which seems
  • improbable, or we are
  • immortals, living always
  • in eternity, as from time to time
  • we hear, but rarely know.
  • You see the rainbow and the new-leafed
  • woods bright beneath, you see
  • the otters playing in the river
  • or the swallows flying, you see
  • a beloved face, mortal
  • and alive, causing the heart
  • to sway in the rifts between beats
  • where we live without counting,
  • where we have forgotten time
  • and have forgotten ourselves,
  • where eternity has seized us
  • as its own. This breaks
  • open the little circles
  • of the humanly known and believed,
  • of the world no longer existing,
  • letting us live where we are,
  • as in the deepest sleep also
  • we are entirely present,
  • entirely trusting, eternal.
  • Is it concentration of the mind
  • our unresting counting
  • that leaves us standing
  • blind in our dust?
  • In time we are present only
  • by forgetting time.