Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nothing She Can Say to Precede

Though he was ill and in pain,
in disobedience to the instruction he
would have received if he had asked,
the old man got up from his bed,
dressed, and went to the barn.
The bare branches of winter had emerged
through the last leaf-colors of fall,
the loveliest of all, browns and yellows
delicate and nameless in the gray light
and the sifting rain. He put feed
in the troughs for eighteen ewe lambs,
sent the dog for them, and she
brought them. They came eager
to their feed, and he who felt
their hunger was by their feeding
eased. From no place in the time
of present places, within no boundary
nameable in human thought,
they had gathered once again,
the shepherd, his sheep, and his dog
with all the known and the unknown
round about to the heavens' limit.
Was this his stubbornness or bravado?
No. Only an ordinary act
of profoundest intimacy in a day
that might have been better. Still
the world persisted in its beauty,
he in his gratitude, and for this
he had most earnestly prayed.

Wendell Barry


Middle Aged Woman said...


"he who felt
their hunger was by their feeding

took my breath away. Thank you for posting it.

Anonymous said...

A lovely poem, especially for a knitter with a weakness for anything sheepy. People who love and care for animals are some of my favorite people.

She She said...

Amen. Live until you can't live anymore.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

What She She said. Exactly.

Daisy said...

And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the fields...