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  • Writer's pictureTimothy S. Colman

Sabbath poem by Wendell Berry

How long does it take to make the woods?


As long as it takes to make the world.


The woods is present as the world is, the presence


of all its past and of all its time to come.


It is always finished, it is always being made, the act


of its making forever greater than the act of its destruction.


It is a part of eternity for its end and beginning


belong to the end and beginning of all things,


the beginning lost in the end, the end in the beginning.



What is the way to the woods, how do you go there?


By climbing up through the six days' field,


kept in all the body's years, the body's


sorrow, weariness, and joy. By passing through


the narrow gate on the far side of that field


where the pasture grass of the body's life gives way


to the high, original standing of the trees.


By coming into the shadow, the shadow


of the grace of the strait way's ending,


the shadow of the mercy of light.



Why must the gate be narrow?


Because you cannot pass beyond it burdened.


To come into the woods you must leave behind


the six days' world, all of it, all of its plans and hopes.


You must come without weapon or tool, alone,


expecting nothing, remembering nothing,


into the ease of sight, the brotherhood of eye and leaf.

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