Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Way of Pain, by Wendell Berry

(from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, Counterpoint Press, 1999)

For parents, the only way
is hard. We who give life
give pain. There is no help.
Yet we who give pain
give love; by pain we learn
the extremity of love.

I read of Abraham's sacrifice

the Voice required of him,
so that he led to the altar
and the knife his only son.
The beloved life was spared
that time, but not the pain.
It was the pain that was required.

I read of Christ crucified,

the only begotten Son
sacrificed to flesh and time
and all our woe. He died
and rose, but who does not tremble
for his pain, his loneliness,
and the darkness of the sixth hour?
Unless we grieve like Mary
at His grave, giving Him up
as lost, no Easter morning comes.

And then I slept, and dreamed

the life of my only son
was required of me, and I
must bring him to the edge
of pain, not knowing why.
I woke, and yet that pain
was true. It brought his life
to the full in me. I bore him
suffering, with love like the sun,
too bright, unsparing, whole. 


Joyce said...

A love of a parent. Very powerful. xo

Elizabeth said...

Wow. I have never read that poem -- so powerful, yet so unlike Berry's other poetry --

Melanie said...

Deep. Beautiful.

Loree said...

It's all so true and so sad. I so wish we could spare out loved ones pain. But we cannot and it makes me feel so helpless. But we know there is more to life than pain and that's what keeps all of us going.

Kay L. Davies said...

Oh, how heartfelt, Leslie.

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

Ostriches Look Funny said...

love you.

My bible study leader said, "Pain is not your enemy, comfort is not your friend"...I think it's true.

deb colarossi said...

oh , Leslie
just oh.

foxysue said...

Leslie, thank you for commenting on my post I'm touched by your caring! My daughter is in hospital at the moment with severe mental health issues and so things can seem dark but as I said interspersed with light!

Will be back to read more of your posts later.

Take care Sue

Dianne said...

I love Wendall Berry... and this is one of his most thought provoking poems... Thank you.

Beth said...


Hildred and Charles said...

I never read Wendell Berry without becoming more mindful of the realities of life. A very touching poem.