When The Old Escapes Into The New

Each spring I revisit the poem “A Purification” by Wendell Berry. It’s a good reminder to let go of some things and strive for renewal. Boy howdy, does that seem appropriate this year. This year I wrote this short song which is adapted from that poem. Turned it into a secular prayer of sorts. Here’s the song followed by the original poem.

A Purification, by Wendell Berry

At start of spring I open a trench
in the ground. I put into it
the winter’s accumulation of paper,
pages I do not want to read
again, useless words, fragments,
errors. And I put into it
the contents of the outhouse:
light of the sun, growth of the ground,
finished with one of their journeys.
To the sky, to the wind, then,
and to the faithful trees, I confess
my sins: that I have not been happy
enough, considering my good luck;
have listened to too much noise;
have been inattentive to wonders;
have lusted after praise.
And then upon the gathered refuse
of mind and body, I close the trench,
folding shut again the dark,
the deathless earth. Beneath that seal
the old escapes into the new.

“A Purification” by Wendell Berry. Text as published in New Collected Poems (Counterpoint, 2012).

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